DISCLAIMER: Bioware owns the concept of Mass Effect and all of its characters. This fanfic is for entertainment and no profit what-so-ever.
AUTHORS NOTES: My Shepard is Vanguard-Spacer-War Hero concept. Scenes from the Citadel might have more ‘chapters’ the idea is that while running around on the citadel performing cannon Citadel side-missions there were some untold events. (btw if you save completing citadel side-missions until you get Liara, you will gain her ally achievement. You have to make her a permanent squad member. You can leave her out for Wrex’s armor mission if you don’t have tech skills otherwise bring her with you at all times.) Used a few animal species from other games because we only encounter a few animals in the game and only a couple are named in the codex. The ones I nicked from other games are owned by Bioware/Lucus arts as well.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Scenes from the Citadel
By Elizabeth Carter
Commander Samantha Shepard first human Spectre held out her arm at right angles to her body, her hand closed into a fist. Instantly the marine next to her: Gunnery Chief Williams dropped into a crouch her hand at her pistol sliding it out of the holster without a sound, her finger flagging the trigger.
The asari Dr. Liara T'soni: Prothean Archeologist, had accompanied the marines on several planet-side missions and was now able to understand the silent command to stop, be silent, and beware, possible danger ahead. Military sign-language was effective and efficient the asari acknowledged. Something had triggered the galvanized battle-senses of the Spectre. Something that neither Liara nor Williams had noticed. Liara summoned energies ready to cast a biotic lift or singularity at the Spectre's command.
There was always the danger of encountering those of questionable repute in the Lower Wards, especially so close to Chora's Den. After all the first time Shepard had come down to the bar she had been targeted by Saren's assassins. It was quite possible the rogue Spectre had sent more to slay the commander.
Shepard had yet to draw her weapon or utilize her biotics. She held her hands out from her body as if to show whoever it was that lurked in the shadows of the red light alleyway she was not going to hurt them. Liara stilled her biotic power to echo this peaceful façade. Only Williams was reluctant to lower her guard, though she did point the muzzle of her gun to the floor.
"He-ey it's okay. We won't hurt you. I know we look like big scary marines but we will never hurt you." Shepard softly spoke to the pile of crates tucked away in the alleyway's corner junction across from the large painted 09 on the bulkhead. "I'm a Spectre. It's my job to protect. You're safe now, so why don't you come out of there and I'll get you to safety."
"Alright." A tiny voice mewled from behind the crates. A moment later the owner of the little voice appeared. It was a very small asari child; she looked no more than three at least to the humans. It was difficult to say just how old she was given that Liara at 106 looked to be in her very early twenties.
Ashley immediately put her gun back into the holster. She was the elder sister of three daughters and knew how easily toddlers could be scared. She put a warm smile on her face to ensure this toddler saw no threat in her.
Shepard lowered herself to the ground on her knees her hand still out with the palm up, her voice as gentle as the Chief had ever heard it. The little girl's light blue face was stained with tear streaks, her breath hiccupping from what had to have been deep sobs only moments ago. Her eyes wide, weary and desperate for anything that was safe.
"My name is Samantha Shepard, but I'll tell you what. I'll let you call me Sam for short okay? Only very very special people get to call me that, not everyone. We won't hurt you. These are my friends. The human, her name is Ashley sometimes she lets others call her Ash. And this is a very dear friend of mine, her name is Liara."
The toddler looked from Williams to T'soni but only nodded. She was still hitching as she breathed. She took a very tentative step towards the Spectre feeling safe in her proximity. "I saw you on the vids at home. The newsman said you're you're a Spectre." She was very articulate for one so seemingly young.
"That's right, I am. And you must know Spectres protect people, keep them safe. Spectres even find the lost and bring them back to the safe places. I'm betting you're pretty lost."
The child nodded, her lower lip trembling.
"Can you tell me what you're name is?" Shepard cooed.
"I'm Maysa Abstergo."
"Maysa. Oh that is a lovely name. Maysa can you tell me how you got down here? This area isn't exactly a good place for a child."
"I got scared. The noise was too much and and I ran away to hide." The tot pointed towards the darkened path leading to Chora's Den. "But this place even scarier. I don't like the red lights. If I hid it would go away."
"You were in there? Is your mother a dancer?" Shepard asked a little astonished.
The asari were something of a paradox for most humans. Shepard found them fascinating and captivating. They seemed to embrace their sexuality openly. They often took to openly alluring or sensually provocative professions. It was common to see asari dancers or serving as Consorts for hire. Yet they were without a doubt the most respected, admired and powerful species in the galaxy. Renowned for their wisdom and foresight, the asari, by all accepted accounts, were the first species after the Prothean extinction to achieve interstellar flight. They were also the first to discover the Citadel, and they were a founding member species of the Council. The asari controlled more territory and wielded more influence than any other race.
It was difficult for the majority of humans, especially the males to reconcile the asari's dominant role in galactic politics with the enthralling performance of an asari dancer. It was a failing on human biases and ill-conceived expectations. The asari looked female and so they were victims of stereotypical human anti-matriarchal tendencies. Williams herself struggled with this, yet Shepard seemed to take it all in her stride.
She had told Williams and several others aboard the Normandy: 'It is stupid to judge an entire species on the basis of an individual.' It was simple proof humans had a lot to learn about the rest of the galaxy. 'Their ways are not our ways. It is conceited and arrogant to even try to judge other species by patriarchal human culture or even compare it.'
So it wasn't Shepard's comment about the girl's mother being a dancer that had repulsed the commander but that a child was exposed to the clients Chora's Den attracted. A great many of them had moral compasses that pointed due south. Shepard highly doubted a mother would take a child into such a place so how did the girl come be in there in the first place?
"I do not think that if the asari dancers have daughters they would leave them alone to suffer in a hive of malcontents." Liara echoed the Spectre's thoughts.
"No, she's not there," Maysa said.
"Okay. Do you remember where you were before you got lost in the scary place?" Shepard asked gently.
Again the girl took another step forward. She felt so safe next to the kind Spectre. Her lower lip started to tremble again as new tears formed in her dark blue eyes, she ran into the Spectre's arms weeping. Shepard coiled her arms gingerly around the tiny frame and held her as the girl wept.
"It's okay Maysa, you're safe now. You are very brave, and you're safe now. I won't let anything hurt you I promise. I'll protect you." Shepard maternally stroked the wee one's back trying to sooth the anxious child. "You're not in any sort of trouble and you won't be either. Can you tell me where you were before? Try to remember sweetheart. Close your eyes and relax, concentrate on what you saw and heard before the loud scary place."
Ashley found herself smiling she had never pegged the skipper for being such a big softy. It was like the commander's heart was made out of marshmallows. 'A natural.' The chief thought to herself. 'If she's ever going to be a mommy she'd be one hell of a good one.' Williams came from a big family with a very nurturing loving yet stern mother. Seeing Shepard like this gave her a pang of homesickness for her own mother. Maybe she could afford a real-time call back home for a few minutes once they found this little one's mother.
Liara herself was struck by how tender her Shepard was with this child. Her heart hurt for her own mother. She could recall a time when Beniza soothed the night-terrors from Liara's mind. 'I will always keep you safe Little Wing. Dreams can not bring harm to you. They can scare, annoy and even bring joy but they can not bring harm. Sleep now, I will see you with the dawn.'
"It had blue walls that were over my head but adults can look over it. Well not the volas they are little. If I was lifted up I could see ships flying. I saw the biggest ship in the whole galaxy! The Ascension Destiny."
"The Upper Wards causeway," Liara said for all of them. "It is the only place one can see the Flagship of the Citadel. She must have gotten distracted and wandered. Her mother must be frantic with worry. That is a highly trafficked location."
"Yeah and easy for a tiny one to get lost in, hel heck LT nearly got lost there." Williams quickly changed her vernacular for the little ears listening to them. "Kids wander away like that all the time. Guess Asari kids are just like human kids. Attracted by big shiny new stuff and then bang lose mommy in the process." Williams said.
Liara blushed slightly, turning her blue face to a light shade of purple. "Yes very young asari maidens are very easily distracted and tend to get restless. Yet this does not explain why this child is down in the wards so close to Charo's Den. Surely her mother would have reported Maysa's missing status to the C-sec."
"I'm betting she did," Shepard said. "Only they might not have thought to look down here or behind discarded shipping crates from the Markets."
"That is a reasonable assumption, Commander." Liara nodded.
"Come on Maysa, we'll take you back to the Upper Wards and start looking for your mamma."
The child seemed very puzzled. "Mamma?"
"Oh er yeah. Human children - a lot of them - call their mothers, mamma or sometimes Mommy or even Ma. When they get older its Mom, Mam or Mum depending upon where they grew up. There are those who use the more formal Mother."
"Oh." the asari child said simply. "What did you use?"
Shepard cleared her throat as a slight blush crawled around her checks.
"I'm curious Skipper what did you use?"
"As am I, Commander." Liara smiled shyly.
Shepard looked over her shoulder at Ashley." Not a word, Chief "
Williams pantomimed the action of zipping her lips. "Cross my heart and hope to die if I breathe a word of it."
Satisfied with the chief's answer Shepard turned her attention back to Maysa. "I called my mother, Mamma until I was about ten or so."
"What do you call her now?" the child tilted her head in the same fashion Liara habitually did.
"Well my mother is in the Alliance Military just like me. Both my parents are Navy; however I went the Marine special ops route. So sometimes I have to use her rank if it's truly official. Though that gets confusing as she is also a commander well staff commander. So when someone says Commander Shepard we both say 'Yes?'"
The girl giggled. From behind Shepard so did Ashley and Liara. It was the latter that spoke. "Yes I can see where that would be cause of some confusion."
"You have no idea," Shepard snickered. "It gets worse if my father is around though he's Major Shepard, now."
"You call your Mother, Commander?" Maysa asked.
"Very rarely and only on official business, much of the time in public is ma'am or Mother. But when it's just us, I call her Mom. Though occasionally I have slipped."
"I like the sound of mamma." Maysa said. "Do you think my mother will let me say it?"
"I don't know Little One, she might. You can ask her when we find her."
"She's not here."
"I know that's why we have to go find her." The Spectre said. "What's her name?"
"She's called Racen."
"Racen Abstergo. Got it. That will make it easier to find her." The Spectre rose to her feet and extended her hand for the child to take. "We'll go back up to the Upper Wards and contact C-Sec to see if there are any reports about a missing child."
"Gotta hand it to the Skipper, she's a natural. Trust me I have three younger sisters. When they are little like that it's hard to get them calmed down once the tears start to flow," Ashley whispered to Liara.
"Three sisters?" Liara had not known the chief came from such a large family. Beniza never had another child. Liara couldn't imagine what it would be like to have sister much less four of them. "Are you close?"
Ashley nodded. "Yep, with all of 'em. Miss them too but we commune via vocal emails so it's not so bad. Guess you don't have any siblings? An only child like the skipper?"
The asari nodded. "It is not uncommon for asari matrons to have more than one daughter; however Beniza chose only to have one." Liara's voice took on a note of regret. She was after all pureblood, no doubt her mother chose not to procreate again after giving birth to such. Then again there were no accidental pregnancies for asari, Beniza chose to have a pureblood. Liara hoped what Shepard said about her 'father' parent was true and the other asari was deceased rather than ashamed and embarrassed for siring a pureblood daughter.
Ashley opened her mouth to ask a question but closed it upon hearing the tot argue with Shepard. She hadn't caught the first part of the conversation but what she did hear made her laugh.
"But Sam, I have very small feet and legs. I have to take three steps for every one you do. I get tired."
"For a toddler you're very smart," the Spectre commented. "Alright you have a point." she knelt down and gathered the child into her arms adjusting her grip so Maysa was resting against her right hip.
Liara had a very amused smile on her face upon witnessing the scene. She found it endearing. She gasped suddenly at a stray thought, that Samantha looked serene carrying an asari child in her arms. It was if she were carrying her own daughter rather than one lost from another woman.
"Better?" Shepard asked and got an eager nod in return. "Good." She winked and touched the little blue button nose with the tip of her finger. "Can't have a little asari princess getting tired now can we?"
An eager shaking of the head that soon came to rest on Shepard's armored shoulder.
Ashley elbowed the archeologist gently in the ribs. She held up the pinky of one hand with the other mimed the action of string going around it. The action only brought a very confused look from T'soni. "It means that little girl has the commander's heart wrapped around her little finger."
Liara smiled broadly at the idea. "Hmm so it would seem."
"You two finished clucking?" Shepard frowned at her companions' conversation. "If word of this gets out to the crew I'm throwing you in the brig, Williams."
"Yes ma'am." Ashley pulled back on the bantering hoping she hadn't gone too far in her teasing. But the corners of Shepard's lips had a faint upwards curl to them. She was taking the teasing good naturedly but it had almost gone too far for the comfort of rank.
"Commander, the Normandy doesn't have a brig." Liara pointed out. "It is too small."
"Then I'll get inventive."
"No need ma'am this stays between us."
"What's a brig?" Maysa asked.
"It's a place to put naughty marines and archeologists for spreading scuttlebutt about their CO being a softy with kids." Shepard's voice was half serious.
"Oh." The girl said.
Ashley fell back half a pace allowing for Shepard to have some space. Liara matched the marine's steps.
"Is she truly upset for what we said? Or ashamed to aid Maysa as she is?" Liara asked tentatively.
"No. Look at her, she adores that little one, but if word got out Shepard was well maternal. It took a long time like I told you for women to be accepted as equals in the military. Men always wanted us as pencil pushers, aides anything none-combative. For too long Humanity wasn't ready to see their daughters die in battle. The commander's tenderness to the child could be seen as weak to some eyes. Of course if she didn't help out she'd be seen as a cold-hearted bitch."
"That is impossible. Shepard will not turn away from someone in danger or trouble. She has helped many along our journeys."
"Well yeah. That's just it. I I . might have ignored many of the requests she answered. I definitely would never have gotten involved with that Michael guy, his sister-in-law and that unborn kid with the possible heart condition. But Shepard stepped up to the plate and dealt with it like some sort of mediator."
"It is the task that sometimes falls upon a Spectre."
"I'm beginning to see there is more to being a Spectre than the strong-arm of the law for the Council. It's like people defer to them in all manner of problems. A lot of them I think are trivial, but Shepard doesn't. I respect that. Hell seeing her with the little sprite makes her seem more real somehow."
"I do not understand."
"You must have read her files." Williams asked.
Liara cast her eyes down. "Yes. She did not appreciate that. She told me all I had to do was ask and she would have told me anything I wanted to know. I shamed her trust with such actions. I wanted to know what happened to make her into the woman she is now."
Ashley nodded, she could relate. Being on the same ship, on the same team with the Savior of Elysium, hero of the Blitz was intimidating and awesome. "There are a lot of stories. Mostly about what happened on Elysium. Her reputation is deserved but it puts her apart from everyone I think. Everyone puts her on a pedestal. She's become a role model. Seeing her like this just makes her more real, less of a mythic superhero. It's kinda a normal scene you know what I mean?"
"I believe I do. Yes." Liara nodded. "We do her a disservice talking about her when she is not present. They are several paces ahead of us; we should catch up lest we become the lost."
Liara came up beside the Spectre her eyes down cast. "Commander, I apologize if anything I spoke was an offence."
Shepard grinned to the beautiful asari. "It's okay, Liara. I didn't find it offensive. It's just there are certain standards in image that a CO must present to their subordinates. Being a soft-touch for children isn't one of them. Even if she does have the cutest doe eyes in the galaxy well next to another pair that I find captivating." Shepard looked directly into Liara's eyes.
The scientist blushed slightly turning her blue cheeks slightly purple.
"Are you paired?" Maysa blurted out watching the older asari maiden and the human looking at one another.
"Out of the mouths of babes," Shepard half-whispered a little shocked by the question. "Um er what makes you say that?"
"Because you look at Liara like my mother looks at Dame. You don't look at Ash like that. So Liara must be special. Like Dame is to Mother, only they are both asari not asari and human."
Liara was a little stunned at the child's proclamation. Now that she inspected Maysa a little closer she could see the deeper blue around her crest that indicated that Maysa was a pureblood. Yet there was no shame in the sire parent if this child's implications were correct: 'because you look at Liara like Mother looks at Dame'.
"Yes, Liara is very very special to me." The Spectre said keeping her gaze steady on Liara.
"That's good." Maysa smiled. "I think you're pretty even if you have head fur."
Shepard bust out laughing. "Head fur?"
Liara couldn't help but giggle herself. She reached out impulsively and touched the dark hair.
"It's very weird, Sam." Maysa commented touching the black silken locks. "Nobody else has head fur. Turians have a crest like asari. And salarians have horns. Maybe volus have head fur but I don't know. They wear funny-suits and no one sees their heads."
"What about quarians?" Ashley asked. She had never seen Tali outside her environmental suit. When you were close you could make out the girl's eyes and nose but as far as 'head fur' it was hard to say.
Apparently Myasa didn't know either, she simply shrugged her shoulders. "How come some humans have face fur?"
"Because they are men. Men grow beards." Williams answered.
"Chief " the Spectre spoke as if she were a schoolmarm. "In a monogender species do you think a toddler of said species would know what the difference between boys and girls are?"
"Oh. I guess not."
Liara seemed to know what to say. "Maysa you have seen male turrians have you not? They have spikes coming from their calves whereas the females do not."
The child nodded.
"For humans the males may sometimes grow this 'face-fur' that they call a beard or mustache if it just covers their upper lip. Human females only have this 'fur' upon their heads. But they don't call it fur for it is hair like the mane of a kath hound."
"That isn't the only place we grow hair." Ashley muttered.
Liara titled her head confused. Shepard leaned over and whispered the explanation in the asari's ear that caused her to blink several times in wonder.
"That is .interesting. For what purpose?"
"Um that isn't a conversation for little pitchers to overhear." Shepard nodded towards the very attentive child cradled in her arms. "Dr. Chakwas can give you access to the medical files on human anatomy once we're back on the Normandy. It will answer a lot of questions far better than I can explain them and with a lot less inaccuracies. After that I'll be happy to discus anything with you."
"Wait - are you saying asari women don't have pub "
"Gunnery Chief Williams!" The commander snapped causing the chief to come to immediate attention. "I already defined that some conversations are not for the young. Did I somehow make that unclear?"
"No ma'am." She swallowed hard. She had heard the commander's ire directed towards others but never at herself. She hoped never to again. The Spectre was truly terrifying when she pulled full command mode.
"Are you going to throw Ash in the brig?" Maysa asked innocently.
"I don't need to." Shepard said her voice once again gentle and soothing. "I trust Ash won't let such an indiscretion happen again. When you are older there are some topics you will learn about and best they come from your parents or a teacher. Right now it will be considered 'tall-talk' and will not be spoken about."
"Alright." The child said dismissively. Head fur was a boring conversation anyway.
The sudden grumbling sound coming from the tot's stomach broke the tension that had grown swiftly in the last few seconds.
"Someone has a rummbly in their tummy." Shepard said to Maysa. "When was the last time you ate?"
"Then we shall have to remedy that."
The troop had long since passed Flux and were now passing through the markets on the Upper Wards. There was a little krogan run tapcafe kiosk that sold meals-on-the-go Shepard recalled seeing at one time or another. They could grab something to eat quickly on their way to the Upper Wards proper. There also happened to be a C-Sec patrol stationed in the commercial sector that could be advised of the situation.
"Liara, Ash take Maysa to get something to eat, I'm going to go talk to the officer over there." Shepard tried to hand the child off to Liara. But the girl latched on with all her might.
"No! I want to stay with you!" she squealed loudly causing several heads to turn in their direction.
"Sweetie look, I'll be right there I need to talk to the C-Sec officer about your mother."
"NO!" the child was truly panicked now burying her head into Shepard's neck, her grip tightened to painful levels.
"Shhh. Okay I won't leave. It's okay. Sweetie loosen your grip."
"I don't want you to go away!" Maysa was sobbing.
"I won't leave you, I promise. Let go just a little I need to breathe."
The commotion stirred enough attention to cause the asari C-Sec officer to investigate. "May I ask what is going on here, Spectre?" The cool crisp voice of the lilac-blue skinned asari rang out.
"Actually yes," Shepard said. She had long since given up questioning how people knew who she was.
It was as Maysa had said the news had picked up the story of her becoming a Spectre quickly. She seemed to be the story of the decade as if there was nothing else news worthy in the galaxy: just a Reaper megalomaniac bent on galactic destruction. But hey what was that compared to the first human Spectre?
"This is Maysa daughter of Racen Abstergo. We found her in the Lower Wards specifically in the alleyway leading to Charo's Den. I'm sure her mother would be ecstatic to have her back. Has Lady Abstergo remained on the Upper Wards or gone to the Academy?"
The police officer looked to the quivering child Shepard was still trying to soothe. She also noted the death hold the child had on the Spectre. "Spectre Shepard, I'm sorry but we have no reports of a missing child or a Matron called Racen Abstergo."
"I can not believe a mother would not report a missing daughter," Liara said. "Surely she must know her child has vanished from her side."
"No doubt, but that does not alter the fact there is no report." The officer said regretfully. "Perhaps If I take her "
"NO! I want my spectre! Sam you said you won't leave! You promised !" The child wailed.
"I keep my promises Little One, don't worry." The Spectre gave a helpless look to the officer. "Guess we will both go with you."
The asari C-Sec officer smiled warmly. It was a very rare sight to see an asari daughter become so attached to anyone but their mother, or sire parent. This child seemed to trust the Spectre explicitly and had such desperation about her it was simply easier to give into the child's desires.
"Do not concern yourself young one you can keep 'your' Spectre. We must concentrate on finding your mother and ascertain why she didn't report you missing."
"She's not here," Maysa said.
It suddenly occurred to Shepard that the child wasn't simply stating that her mother wasn't in the vicinity but wasn't present at all. "Then who was taking care of you?" She asked.
"My guardian, Kyle."
"Kyle? That's a human name." Ashley said a little shocked that an asari would trust a human caretaker. "Your guardian is a human?"
The girl nodded, her eyes still filled with tears. "He went to that loud scary place to watch dancers because the acolytes told him he was too young. His sire comes to see my grandmother so she can sing to him."
"I think I get the picture." Shepard deduced
"I believe I understand this child's plight. A son of one of the Consort's clients was hired to watch over her. Being rejected by acolytes of the Consort's would have fueled the young male's unhealthy possession for asari. No doubt he decided to sate this obsession by watching the dancers at Charo's Den." Liara reasoned. "If the Consort entrusted her granddaughter to this Kyle, the father must be of reliable standing."
"Too bad that reliability trait didn't extend to his spawn." Shepard grumbled. It was about this time that she detected a particular dampness against her neck near to where Maysa face had been. Reaching up she felt a slick wetness against the underlay of the armor. Without comment she reached to her utility belt and pulled out a dry clean cloth generally reserved for cleaning grime or blood off of a weapon, before gun oil was applied. Carefully she dried the child's tears before brining it to her little button nose. "Blow."
Maysa obeyed, delivering a rather soggy cleaning of her nose.
"Good girl." Shepard said tossing the cloth into a nearby bin.
The other adults said not a word of comment about Shepard's display of motherly caretaking. Secretly though Liara was falling all the more in love with this stunning woman. A part of her imagination had made Maysa into a version of a daughter shared between herself and the Spectre. Then chided herself for such a frivolous day-dream.
The child nodded and placed her head back on Shepard's shoulder. The Spectre had to adjust the weight of the girl so she was more comfortably resting on her hip without banging into the various side arms she carried. Of course it would be a great deal easier if she hadn't been wearing the weapons pack. Given the state of the child the Spectre highly doubted her young charge was willing to be set down and simply hold her hand. As if reading her thoughts, Maysa tightened her grip and pressed her slight weight into Shepard as all terrified children would with someone they trust.
"Hey it's okay Maysa I won't let go. Take it easy." Shepard rubbed the little back calming the frayed nerves of the child. With free hand the Spectre cradled the little head as her mother used to do with her when she was about this age. The gentle stroking of her thumb against the child's temple seemed to sooth the girl enough to relax her grip.
"It is amazing Shepard you know exactly... instinctively how to calm an asari daughter." Liara uttered softly.
"Not that hard really. Human kids are the same way. They just need to know the big bad is not going to get them. A gentle touch can sooth a lot of pain." Shepard smirked "Why else do you think the whole 'kissing it to make it better' works so well? It's psychology, or as my nana would say 'headology'."
That got the C-Sec's attention. "Kissing it and make it better? This does not sound like a viable medicinal treatment."
"You're kidding me. Of course it is. Okay, picture this you're a little tyke like Maysa here. You're running around goofing off and bang you fall down and skin your little knee. Mom cleans it and blows a kiss to make it better. Physically the pain doesn't go away but psychologically it makes a babe feel better. It soothes the hurt but in a different way." The Spectre smiled. "It's a lot like the whole monster in the closet or under the bed. Tell a child it's only their imagination and they will freak out at every strange shadow, every odd sound. But if you send a little biotic zap under the bed or in the closest and tell the child the monsters are vanquished their fear diminishes because you didn't dismiss the child's concerns. Even if their imagination re-created the monster they know they are protected and their fear will not overwhelm them."
"You seemed to know a bit about children." The C-Sec officer observed.
"Well I was one once." Shepard shrugged. "I remember what it was like." She adjusted the girl's weight again, as she was beginning to feel heavy. "I think finding this Kyle is a waste of time, I'm taking Maysa back to her grandmother."
"I shall leave you to it, Spectre." The C-Sec officer bowed her head in respect. "I will also inform the Consort of her granddaughter's missing "
"Belay that. I want to confront the Lady herself over her choice of guardians."
The Officer frowned at the request.
"Trust me." The Spectre said. "Right now she doesn't know her grandchild has gone missing. If this Kyle returns empty handed she will call C-Sec, and discover her child safe in the care of a Spectre. Kyle and his father will be disgraced. If I return before Kyle reports the child gone or he runs, again that family will be disgraced. Asari are renowned for their intellect and wisdom. I have met the Consort. She even asked me to do a favor for her. She has an insight that is quite remarkable, so I want to ask her how could she not know this Kyle person would be derelict in his duty? Perhaps confronting the fact her grandchild was in amber-alert-status she will reflect that insight upon herself. And readdress that which has greater importance."
Both asari looked to Shepard with renewed appreciation. Even Williams was a little stunned by the commander's words. Her logic was almost asarian. To Liara it wasn't the first time she had heard Shepard speak as a Matriarch. The first was when she had repeated word for word what Benezia had said over the young asari's career choice.
"I will defer to your wisdom." The C-Sec officer cupped her hands as if to drink water from them and bowed her head. She tilted her head to acknowledge Liara and left.
Shepard turned back to the tiny child in her arms. "We still need to feed you, don't we?"
Maysa eagerly nodded her head, which was punctuated by a small rumble from her stomach.
"That settles that, Skipper. I could definitely grab a bite to eat." Ashley said. "Haven't ate since 0700. It's now late afternoon."
"Indeed I find I am need of nourishment myself. I vote we head to that little tapcafe to find something edible rather than the kiosk. Their food seemed a bit questionable."
"Yeah Skipper, no offense but I don't relish the idea of eating at a krogan fast-food joint. Besides the little one could have a delicate stomach."
"Good point. Okay no fast food, greasy-spoon it is." Shepard said.
"Greasy-spoon?" Liara was constantly befuddled by human euphemisms. She had learned quite early in their travels that humanity would often joke. This was why she had a hard time taking them seriously - before encountering Shepard that was. As Shepard said joking for many humans was a coping mechanism. But humans had a peculiar habit of placing sexual and nonsexual innuendo into many things. They also used a great deal of metaphors and euphemisms. It was, the asari realized, an integral part of their speech.
"Greasy-spoon refers to small time inexpensive tapcafe's. Mom and pop er family run food joints rather than a corporation owned place. It's a reference that dates back to the Twentieth on earth. It's ah nostalgic." Shepard explained. She pointed to the smalltime tapcafe. "No corporate sign means they are independent. They probably have good food that hasn't been processed, like the stuff that comes out of the synthesizers in a mess hall or grab-and-go places."
The tapcafe was indeed a quaint little place with seating for fifteen customers at the most. The food as Ashley put it had a good old fashion home-cooked taste to it. Maysa like all toddlers who eat spaghetti managed to get much of the sauce down her front as in her mouth fortunately Williams had recommended using a napkin for a bib. You don't grow up helping take care of three younger sisters without knowing something about eating messy foods and the effects it had on clothing. Thus the child's blouse was spared being stained.
Shepard paid the tab and was about to take hold of Maysa once more to carry her when a young voice called out drawing all of their attention.
"There you are! I've been looking for you everywhere. Maysa you shouldn't have run off like that. That was a bad thing to do." A young man no more than eighteen headed for them. His platinum blonde hair was slicked back against his skull. His hazel eyes darted from the small blue child to the harsh expression on the black haired marine.
He flashed what he considered to be a charming smile once he saw the three women with the child he was supposed to have been minding. "Er thank you for finding her soldier er sorry just saw the insignia on your armor. You're a commander aren't you? I'll take her now, thanks a "
"Liara tend Maysa" Shepard snapped. In three quick unrelenting strides she had a hold of a very stunned Kyle. Her hand snapped around his neck so tightly she was nearly cutting off his air supply. "You foul slime. You were charged with a duty to protect a child!" Shepard roared so loudly that the whole of the market place had turned from bartering, haggling and conversation to witness.
"You were derelict of duty. You endangered an innocent life all for the sake of your lusts. You betrayed the trust put into you." The hand around the man's neck tightened. The Spectre's teeth gnashed together into a snarl.
Kyle struggled with the iron grip around his windpipe, his face turning beet red. He gulped greedily for air, precious little was getting in. His eyes bulged with terror and lack of oxygen.
"I should end your life now you pathetic creature! You are disgrace to your race!" Shepard flung the man from her hold sending him flying into a bulkhead with a sickening bone-cracking sound. He lay there limp. "You disgust me."
Officers of C-Sec rushed the scene in the forefront was the asari officer. The other two were turrians. The latter had their hands on their sidearms but didn't draw when they recognized Shepard as a Spectre.
Kyle moved slightly. His trousers were damp at the crotch, his throat red from being nearly strangled to death. He raised a shaking hand and pointed at Shepard. "Officers I am Kyle Gou the son of Diplomat Gou. I want her under rest for assault. I got me plenty of witnesses "
"Spectre, do you need assistance?" The asari asked. She unlike her counterparts had the foreknowledge to know exactly what was going on and why the Spectre was understandably enraged. She had seen Shepard snatch and strangle the male. It wasn't until the young human went flying that she signalled that perhaps they should investigate. She had simply told the other officers they needed to trust her judgment, the Spectre had every right to confront this human male and treat him as she had.
Blood drained from young Gou's face. "Sp Spectre? You're 'that' commander?"
"Place this Neanderthal under arrest for child endangerment, child neglect, public indecency and anything else I can think up. You better thank God now boy, you're not military or I would shoot you myself!" Shepard spat. "Get him out of here."
The turrians took hold of the young Gou, dragged him to his feet and placed binders on him. They stared to read him his legal rights even as they dragged him away still shouting that he was the son of a diplomat and his father would never allow him to be locked up and Shepard would lose her badge for this insult. Didn't they know who he was? Who his father was? It was an outrage of injustice against humans.
"A little more aggressive than I would have professionally carried out the arrest but your results were affective." The asari said candidly.
"No innocent should be put in danger. No child neglected. It pisses me off when I see it." Shepard crossed her arms over her chest. Her lips pulled into a scowl.
"As I bore witness." The officer commented dryly. "I will need a report for documentation purposes as well as to process the criminal. As you said despite his father's high standing as a diplomat, the Gou name is now in disgrace. Backroom politics can not simply brush this as you humans say under the carpet. Given Maysa is the granddaughter of the Consort, a woman of standing in the Citadel, Diplomat Gou will want to make recompense as quickly and quietly as possible. He will be forced to give his son up to the law or face expulsion from the diplomatic corps. The Consort has many many connections that can not be ignored for the sake of one young male's pride."
Actually Shepard hadn't thought that far ahead. Yes she thought the family would be disgraced but she didn't think it would involve the whole Alliance diplomatic corps. By all that was holy she hated politics and politicians. As long as the Gou boy didn't walk away with a slap on the wrist she didn't care what the diplomats thought. As far as Shepard was concerned the Gou kid should be held indefinitely.
"Is Kyle going to the brig? He isn't a marine or archeologist." Maysa's tiny voice brought Shepard back to herself. Her face once a mask of rage was now once more calm. Her eyes dark with anger were bright blue once more.
"The brig is for any grown-up who is naughty. Maysa, I'm sorry if I frightened you. He made me a bit angry for bringing you into danger. Children, all children have to be protected, safe-guarded from harm. When they are deliberately brought in to danger, it makes 'your' Spectre mad. But I'm not mad at you. You've done nothing wrong. I'm sorry but Kyle needs to go to the brig for what he's done. Come on. We had a big day and I still need to get you to your grandmother."
Maysa let go of Liara who like Ashley was still staring stunned at the commander. They had never seen her go into such a rage before. Neither knew she had it in her. They had only ever seen her act as a paragon of justice, thought and action. To bear witness to this almost rogue side of her was startling.
Maysa jumped into the waiting arms of 'her' Spectre and rested her head as before on the armored shoulder. It was frightening to see Sam toss Kyle as she had but the child had no fear of her hero. Kyle made her go to the loud scary place, lied to the bouncer about meeting her mother after she got off of her shift. Maysa tried to tell the krogan bouncer her mother wasn't there, she wasn't a dancer; but no one listened. The only people to listen to her were Sam, Liara and Ash. Sam was a Spectre, 'her' Spectre and would protect her. The only thoughts Maysa got from Sam was 'protectkeep-safeprotect'. That was all that was necessary to sooth the underdeveloped telepathy of the empathic asari toddler.
The small troop of two humans and two asari females made their way past the milling whispering and pointing crowd to the fast-transit station. "I think we should move as quickly as possible. We have gained some attention." Liara said. "We should best avoid harvesting further unwanted interaction."
"I totally agree with you there, Babe." Shepard said so nonchalantly that it took her a few beats to realize she had used a term of endearment in public. She snapped her teeth together as she looked to Williams. 'This could be problematic.'
"Sorry Skipper did you say something? I didn't quite hear you over that crowd." Williams offered a way out for the Spectre. She saw Shepard visibly relax and blow out a breath of eased tension.
"I said Liara had a good idea about using the rapid-transport system to avoid gaining more attention."
"No you did not. You said. 'I agree with you " Maysa started but was stopped with Shepard cupping her hand over the little mouth.
"Essentially the same thing. Come on we should hurry." Shepard quickly said trying to distract the child in her arms.
Avoiding attention wasn't going to be as easy as all that. Several people had laid witness to the confrontation between the Spectre and the Guo boy. Two were note worthy. One was Reporter Emily Wong who managed to catch the entire encounter on a small hover camera. The other was another reporter though not was ethical perhaps as the former. Kalisah Al-Jilanl also captured the incident. It didn't take long before both aired on the vids.
'There you have it folks. Commander Shepard first human Spectre denied her humanity. She violently attacked Diplomat Draco Gou's son, Kyle Gou, saying he was a disgrace to his race. Just what does this mean? 'His race?' Has the so called Savoir of Elysium; Hero of the Blitz and Eden Prime gone native? Has she forsaken Humanity for the will of the Council? It would appear so. Young Mr. Gou suffers several medical injuries to his person after being violently strangled and thrown callously into a wall. Mr. Gou the younger proclaims he will seek recompense for the disgrace. He also seeks to repeal the implied child endangerment charge as the asari girl was in no real danger as long as she had stayed with him and not carelessly run off. WE can not for legal purposes reveal this child's name or face only that she is of the Council species. It is doubtful the Spectre will be available for comment as she denied the public the truth before. We will bring you more of this story as it unfolds. Right now we will replay the scene taken place in the Markets of a Spectre's malicious and brutal attack on a diplomat's' son. '
Wong's report was somewhat different. "Extremely protective of a child's life, Spectre Shepard, Commander of the Alliance confronted the Kyle Gou son of a well respected diplomat Draco Gou for purposely endangering and neglecting a child placed in his care. This reporter has discovered that Gou the younger took the young asari child into Chora's Den. Apparently Gou the younger was so neglectful he was unaware of the child missing status for some time. From what we discovered the child fled the dance-club trying to seek safety. The child who must for her own protection purposes remain unnamed and unseen was rescued by the Spectre who abhors any endangerment to any innocent life regardless of species. Commander Shepard took the young child into protective care and seeks to reunite mother and daughter. Commander Shepard had once promised this reporter an exclusive and we will report later as the story unfolds. Right now we will replay the scene of a protective enforcer of galactic law charging in to defend an innocent life from the hands of young man who neglectfully and willfully endangered a toddler's life.'
The rapid transport system deposited the four travellers just outside the Consort's place of business. With deliberation Shepard entered the elegantly and tastefully decorated chambers. "I have an unscheduled appointment with the Matron Sha'ira. I am more than positive she will see me," the Spectre told the young asari acolyte acting as hostess.
Upon seeing the asari daughter and recognizing who she was, there was no argument but there was a hesitation. "The Consort isn't in. When Maysa's guardian didn't report in on their appointed time she left to investigate herself why this was so. I believe she went to speak to the Council about the matter. Have they appointed you Spectre to recover the daughter?"
"No. I found her on my own, lost and terrified. If you excuse me I'll wait for the Consort in her chambers. I think it best for Maysa. If you will open them for us."
"Yes of course!" the young acolyte scrambled ahead of them to key in the private entry code into her mistress's chambers. "I'll notify the Consort and the Council immediately that you recovered Maysa."
"That is a wise decision," Liara said knowing Samantha was in no mood to talk to anyone other than the Consort about Maysa.
Upon entering Maysa's reaction was immediate. She was far more relaxed and completely at ease in the very familiar surroundings of her grandmother's chambers. Shepard set the tot down relieved to have the slight weight gone. It was strange how twenty pounds could soon feel like a hundred. She stretched craning her neck back and forth as she did so.
"We might as well take a seat it might be awhile." The Spectre said taking her own advice to make ones self comfortable. She even went as far as to strip the weapon's pack from her back and set it against the side of the chaise longue she stretched out upon.
The other furniture in the room was the egg-shaped pleasure dome with purple tinted glass, twin over-stuffed lounge chairs. One of which Liara claimed after removing her own weapon's pack. Williams, still carried her gear, took to wandering around the quarters simply looking at the various pieces of art work created by asari artists. They were vividly alive in detail, color and drama: reminiscent of De Vinci, Caravaggio or Jacques-Louis David. Still others were reminiscent of Japanese silk-painters. There was even some art done by computers that were remarkable. There was a particular artist a favorite of Ashley's from back in the Twentieth, who had started out as an unpaid highly skilled amateur but quickly gained recognition in the field. Damned if the chief could recall the name though. Remembering Ulysses by rote was easy recalling the names of artists and dates that wasn't so simple for someone not into art.
Nestled in a corner was a delicately designed dulcimer made from a rich dark cherry wood. Or at least Ashley thought it looked like cherry wood but to her untrained eye dark stained wood looked like any other dark stained wood. Blindfold her and she could instantly tell you what sort of rifle that was in front of her by touch alone. Abby was the artistic Williams girl, she'd love this place. Ashley thought quietly. She looked over her shoulder to the very relaxed commander. Her long legs stretched out on the chaise longue and crossed at the ankles, her arms folded and acted as a pillow behind her head.
Williams chuckled as she watched Maysa climb up onto the red velvet longue and mimic her hero's pose. Liara grinned as well.
"Seems that you have an admirer." The doctor spoke with a lyrical note in her voice.
The commander looked down at the child and snickered. "Guess so. Though I have to say fighting the geth isn't half as intimidating as being a role-model for little girls." The captain held up her hand. "I know, I know in a monogeneder, girl has no real meaning but I go into default mode, sorry."
"Other asari have adapted to other species using the various pronouns of female. I suppose my isolation hasn't taught me to simply accept the usage."
"Does it offend you?" Shepard asked suddenly aware that each time she used the pronouns for female she was inadvertently insulting the very person she loved.
"No." Liara shook her head. "I used to think it a failing for the other species to label my people as women. But it is my failing for not extending an understanding that it is a natural response of dual-sexed species to recognize that which looks female must be female and the same for male."
"I want to understand the asari more, Liara. Your culture is so different, it is refreshing. I find everything about asari to be fascinating."
Liara grinned. "Ask me anything and I will gladly tell you. Though learning form a matriarch is best. They have the wisdom to teach without youthful stubbornly held ideals."
Shepard snickered. "I'll keep that in mind."
"Liara?" Ashley asked. "I gotta ask this. Consorts they are respected in your culture. When we went to Charo's Den to find General Septimus for the Consort, you said asari are very open about the sexuality."
"If club owners exploit this to hire dancers, isn't the idea of Consorts the same kind of exploitation. There are brothels on earth that do the same."
"No. You have misinformation about what a Consort does. What her role is. She does not offer her body for sex. She gives company. As you can see, Consort Sha'ira is an accomplished musician. A Consort is trained in one if not more musical instruments, she recites poetry and stories. Perhaps they will share tea together. Sometimes she simply listens as her client tells her of the things they have seen on the battlefield if they are soldiers. Sometimes even her clients will wish to recite poetry and she will listen to them. Sometimes she will simply hold her client in an almost nurturing way. Sometimes they will offer pleasure yes but not always."
"Like the geisha in the Ancient Japan." Shepard said casually stretching her body feeling as if every vertebra in her back had popped. "Consorts aren't prostitutes, Ash. To think of them as such is a great disservice and insult."
"Sorry, I guess I really didn't think deeper about it. I guess I simply assumed they nevermind. Glad it isn't that way." Williams gave a lopsided grin. "The whole idea of the little one's granny being a Madam hurt the head."
"You had trouble reconciling the roles. I understand." Liara nodded her head. She rose from the chair to look at the paintings on display. Over her shoulder she spoke to either marine. "Humanity doesn't have Consorts?"
"Not any more." Williams said. "Like the Skipper said there were a group of ladies called geisha that did exactly what a Consort does. But the practice slipped into the background. I suppose some of the traditions are still practiced. But I wouldn't know. I'm inclined for well men." 'Tell you one thing Miss Prothean expert. If Shepard were a guy you'd have some real competition. She's everything I'd want in a partner but for one thing " Ashley signed and sat down on the remaining lounge chair. Hell Shepard was the only woman that Ashley had even been tempted to switch teams for. Apparently Shepard liked the shy bookish sort for someone to share her bunk. 'They do say opposites attract. Bookish science geek instead of a gun-toting woman of action. Still she liked it when reciting poetry. That definitely got her attention. Phupt she's with Liara and there ain't no changing that. Besides I don't know if I could switch teams just for her ' Williams looked to her commanding officer and couldn't help but snicker. The sound caught Liara's attention.
The chief gestured with her head to the chaise longue. Shepard had become so relaxed she had actually fallen asleep. Her chest was used as a pillow by a very little girl in an almost Madonna like pose with the commander's arms protectively holding the child.
Liara grinned. Once more her imagination decided to take flight. The doctor envisioned the scene slightly different. It was their daughter resting her little head upon her Dame's chest as they napped in a quiet afternoon.
"Now that is holopic moment." Williams whispered. She reached to her utility belt and pulled out a small personal holo-camera. There were times she liked to take pictures of the local flora and fauna of a planet and send it to her sisters who 'ooh'ed and 'awwh'ed over the alien life forms. She had even taken a pic of her newest squad. Proving to her sisters she was indeed posted and served with Commander Samantha Shepard hero of the Blitz. Shepard had even been kind enough sign her autograph for Abby.
Williams framed the shot perfectly showing the Spectre's protective arms holding the little child in a comfortable almost maternal embrace.
"Will not the commander be displeased if others were to see that picture?"
"Which is why no one will, just you me and the commander."
Liara waited a beat, before speaking. "May I have a copy?"
Ashley snickered again. "I knew you were going to say that. Yeah sure." She tucked the small holo-camera back into her utility belt. "Like you said she's not going to like it if someone else claps their peepers on it."
"Rest assured that no one will see this picture. It is a moment to be preserved. This will serve as a reminder what we are fighting for - the salvation of all innocent life."
"Um yeah. I just thought it was cute." Williams commented. "But as reminders go, it's a good one."
The sound of the door opening brought a startled Shepard to full alert. She rolled off the chaise longue, her hand flying to her hip holster reaching for her pistol. Only when her eyes adjusted to bring the newcomer into focus did she relax.
Elegantly Consort Sha'ira floated into her chambers. She took one evaluating look to the child still slumbering in little kitten snores before looking to the Spectre who had rescued her grandchild. "It seems I am in your great debt Commander Shepard." She said with a hint of sadness that her daughter's offspring had been put in such a position.
"I would have done the same for any lost child, Consort. But I have to know, why did you let her go with that reprobate in the first place? You had to have known Kyle Gou was slime despite his father's position and standing."
"In the past young Mr. Gou had proved to be a reliable guardian. His father said he was a coach for a human sporting game which young males kick a spherical leather ball into nets."
"A soccer couch, well that doesn't mean he's any good with toddlers." Shepard's voice took an edge to it that even surprised her. "He took her to one the seedier bars in the Citadel. She was left alone and terrified."
"Commander, I have no words to give you for what you have given me. I know you disapprove of my choice in guardians, so too will her mother. I allowed the young Gou to watch over my grandchild because I felt from him a great desire to prove himself. I thought if he were to take Maysa to see the Destiny's Ascension and then brought her back straight after he would prove to himself and to his father he was dependable. At the time I had not detected any malcontent or that he would shirk his duty. Maysa was not reluctant to be in the young man's company I took this a sign that Gou the younger like his father was a person of dependability and a reliable person of integrity."
"Yeah well they say sometimes being a paragon skips a generation." Shepard pointed out.
"Indeed. Fortunately you found and saved Maysa. For that I can never thank you enough."
"Just make sure she's never in that position again." Shepard crossed her arms over her chest, her lips pulled into a scowl.
"It will not. Word had been sent to the Destiny's Ascension, her mother will be station-side shortly.
"Her mother serves aboard the 'Ascension?" Williams asked.
"Yes, indeed she is the flagship's commander." For the first time the Consort studied Liara closely, with enough scrutiny that caused the younger asari to pull back and look away.
Shepard's reaction was swift she stood in front of the woman who would be her lover to shield her from the gaze of the Consort.
"Dr. T'soni no doubt relayed to you certain conventional wisdoms of asari culture."
"She did and I don't agree with it. Liara is extraordinary. There is no shame to be had." Shepard's tone took on decisive venom. "One would think you'd understand given your granddaughter. For a race so wise the idea that 'purebloods' gain nothing is an exceedingly stupid belief. Liara and Maysa have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. I will challenge anyone who says otherwise. And if their sire parents are ashamed and embarrassed then they are no better that that Gou thug!"
"Indeed," the Consort smiled. "You are protective of Dr. T'soni. Your beliefs are strong. As I told you, you are a soldier born to the uniform, more than that you are Spectre born. When you see an injustice you feel a burning need to rectify it, often times at the cost of your life or perhaps even your reputation. That is what it is to be a Spectre. I happen to know and approve of my daughter's partner. Maysa is beautiful. I hold a conventional occupation as Consort, by but I do not always hold to conventional wisdom doctrines."
Shepard relaxed her stance upon hearing that last sentence. She moved ever so slightly to stand not in front of but besides the woman she loved deeply.
"I will tell you this, if Liara were my daughter I would give you my blessings to pay court to her, and eventually join in Union."
Both younger women stared shocked at the proclamation of the matron. Her voice dropped to a whispered so only they heard the next words "Some years ago I was the sire-parent of a child to be born to another asari. They were taken from me - lost when our shuttle was targeted by raiders. My partner went into sudden labor and I had to make a choice. I placed my partner and our unborn child into an escape pod and launched it.
"I distracted the pirates long enough for the pod to touch down. Fortunately we had been near an asari science colony I knew my beloved and unborn daughter would be safe. I never expected to survive. Actually it was General Septimus's squadron that found my ship and destroyed the raiders. We flew here to the Citadel. The General came to see me three days later reporting there was no sign of my partner or daughter in the pod, the scientists never encountered her. They were presumed dead. For months after I searched but there was nothing. No trace of them. With nothing left I returned here to the Citadel. I was already a known Consort before the incident. It was easy enough to have my chambers settled here. So you see Liara, Commander I quite understand my daughter's choice in partners and her own pride in Maysa."
"If you never heard of or seen your partner and daughter again oh how dense am I? The Commander of Destiny' Ascension is not the same daughter." Shepard reasoned feeling particularly stupid.
"A year latter I joined in Union with someone I cared for, a turrian though not Septimus and birthed Beliaev. I have great pride in her. I would have equal pride in the daughter lost to me." She gave a steady look to Liara but said nothing more.
"Grandmother!" Maysa cried out upon seeing the Consort. All faces turned to see the child bound off of the chaise longue and charge into her grandmother's arms.
Sha'ira picked her up and cradled the girl to her chest, closed her eyes as she filled herself with the sensation the precious child was safe and secure. She grinned when she heard Maysa take in a deep breath.
"I got lost, but Sam found me. She said I'm brave. We ate a greasy spoon and she threw Kyle into a wall. And I'm going to call Mother, Mama like Sam calls her mother. And and Sam and Liara are paired, like Mother and Dame. And and Ash won't go in the brig for talking tall talk to little pitchers and and oh. Kyle goes in the brig. Sam threw him hard right in a wall because he's slime. She also grabbed him by the throat had hoisted him a million feet off of the floor. Oh she has head fur like a kath hound, it's very soft. Ash said humans have fur other places but Sam got mad at her so I don't know where else oh yes the face! Males have face fur and and and .she threw Kyle away just like that. I want to be her when I'm a matron."
"For crying out loud kiddo would you breathe?" Ashley chuckled. "She's worse than Abby, and at that age and she went into babble mode at FTL speeds." It privately spooked the chief how articulate and cognitive the toddler was and yet spoke with the excitement of any two or three year old.
"It appears you have made quite the impression on my young granddaughter."
"I hope that isn't problematic."
In a knowing voice the Consort said: "I do not think she could have a better role model Spectre."
"Only I never set out to be one."
"Then you will have to accept the fact that you are." Liara said softly.
"No pressure." Shepard blew out a breath then smiled unconvincingly. Her hand moved to cup the child's little chin in her hand. "Look Sweetie, Liara, Ash and I have to go."
"But I want you to stay here, Sam. You promised not to leave." Tears threatened at the corners of her eyes.
"You are here safe with your grandmother, Little One, and I have to go. But I tell you what, I happen to know Ash carried around a camera. She'll take a picture of us together and you can keep it okay?
"It's not the same." The child pouted.
"No it isn't but it will have to do." Shepard's voice though still soft was firm. "You know I'm a Spectre and I have to go and make sure you stay safe. You are very brave and you're back with your family so I know you'll be alright. We all have our duties to perform."
"Mother says the same thing." the little head bowed. "All right. But you won't forget me?"
"Cross my heart." Shepard "here point out your little finger." The child compiled. A tiny blue digit stuck out. "An old earth custom no one breaks a pinky promise." Shepard hooked her pinky around the little blue one. "I promise to see you again some day okay? And I promise never to forget you. Now you have to be brave and say goodbye for now."
The girl took in a great breath; just before she launched herself from her grandmother's arms into those of the Spectre. Shepard caught her but not without losing a gust of air in a whoosh. "You're my favoritest human; you're my Spectre, Sam." With all of her tiny might the asari toddler hugged Shepard tightly.
"I'm fond of you too, Little One."
128 years Later
Maysa D'rien looked up at memorial statue of Admiral Samantha Shepard: First Human Spectre, hero of a dozen worlds, Savoir of the Citadel and Council, Slayer of the Reapers, with profound reverence and love.
"You're my favoritest human; you're my Spectre, Sam." She whispered. The statue had been erected only months after the greatest hero humanity possess had died. It stood proudly in the middle of the Citadel lagoon where once the 'statue' of a mass relay once stood. In her arms was an assault rifle at rest, she looked off into the distance as if she could see the untold dangers coming from Dark Space. Her dark hair framed her face as if blowing in sculpted wind. Her expression one of confidence and strength inspired all who looked upon it. "You were very brave."
"Maysa!" a lyrical voice called out from the crowd. Another beautiful asari woman rushed towards her pushing herself between the milling crowds. "I knew I would find you here." A delicate lilac-blue hand touched the other's back in a near lover's touch. "I miss her too, but come we promised to meet Liara and Hanna at 'the greasy spoon'."
"What was she like? As a mother?"
The other stopped moving. Her eyes looking up to the grand memorial statue before she was able to find her voice once more.
"Mamma was fun adventurous a bit overprotective actually a lot overprotective. She was loving and stern, though she doted on me and my sister to the point Mother had to scold her on several accounts. My godmother Ash always said she was always a big softy for children, especially if they had doe eyes." The speaker smiled. Her high cheek bones and easy grin no doubt were traits of the woman whose features were now carved into stone. "Of course if she ever said my full name I knew I was in for it. 'Beniza Ashley Shepard-T'soni! Step two!' Then it was pure military. Did you know she even put me in the brig once! I never broke curfew after that."
Maysa laughed. "So were you a naughty marine or a naughty archeologist?"
Beniza smirked. "Little of both. Though I will always remember the pride she had when I enlisted in the Alliance Marines. Mother was proud as well for my choice. I was the first Asari to be accepted into the ranks. I had already trained as a commando but I wanted to carry on her legacy. I needed to. She will never see any grandchild but I was able to give her that before she died." Her blue eyes watering. Oh how she missed her mamma. "She was so very proud of me. One of the most wondrous things she did for me, even though she out ranked me was to salute me just after graduation. I will never forget that. Here was Admiral Shepard saluting a private!"
Maysa touched the delicate features of Beniza and seeing the Spectre in her face before her. "She didn't salute a mere private on that day, she saluted the gift you gave her. She knew she would never see you reach past maidenhood to become a matron, which is still century and more away. She knew she would not be able to cradle any child you or Hanna gave birth to. No doubt her heart swelled with great pride for your actions." Once more Maysa kissed the woman she loved this time kissing away the tears in her eyes. "Come. As you said, your mother and twin await us; we should not keep them waiting."
"Yes they are. As we walk will you tell me again how you came to meet my mama?"
Maysa smiled, "I was only two. And I heard footsteps coming; I tried to crunch into a very tiny ball. Then I heard the softest kindest voice next to my our grandmother's. It was a human voice I could tell. She tempted me from my dark hiding place and said she was a Spectre. It was her job to protect the lost "
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