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The Admiral's Daughter

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He calls her Admiral Zorah.

It’s a small thing, and perhaps it should not mean as much to her as it does. But Koris is the only one who actually uses her title - and, she suspects, the only one who ever will. She doesn’t know if Raan and Gerrel will ever be able to stop seeing her as her father’s daughter; they cannot call her Admiral Zorah because that name will always be Rael’s. She doesn’t begrudge them that familiarity - it’s not meant unkindly - but she knows very well what it means, that they don’t take her seriously. They watched her grow up. They see a little girl, not an admiral.

Coming from Admiral Xen, it’s worse. She has no reason to be so familiar with the youngest-ever Admiral of the Migrant Fleet, and the tone of her voice makes Tali feel like a child more than Raan and Gerrel ever do. When she looks Tali straight in the eye, using her first name if she addresses her at all, Tali can almost hear her smirk. It’s deliberate, and yet technically there is no breach of protocol, so she can do nothing. Xen is perhaps the most subtle of all the admirals and has employed all of her considerable skills to making Tali feel unwelcome, unworthy.

It makes her all the more determined to prove herself, to prove them wrong.

But there is some comfort in her alliance with Koris, something she never expected. After what he tried to do to her at her trial, there’s still a certain frigidity between them that will probably never completely fade, but they're on the same side now, and his regard for her is surprisingly genuine. He doesn’t mean it as an act of kindness, but calling her “Admiral” is still the kindest thing anyone’s done for her since her appointment to the Board. And she respects him, in a way. He is still not an easy man to like - abrasive, argumentative, and every bit as stubborn as Gerrel - but she realizes now that her father and Gerrel were always wrong about him. For all his faults, he is not a coward.

They may be fighting a losing battle - but there is one person who does not see her as Rael’s little girl, and there is one person who believes her about the geth. For now, that is enough.