One moment they were reading reports, the next they were being rushed through hidden passages to reach the elevators.
Cerberus was attacking the Citadel.
That was the only information they were getting. Communications to C-Sec were down, personal guards were rushing a decoy elsewhere, and there was no word from Commander Bailey.
“Williams, where is Valern?” Sparatus asked quietly.
“By the Goddess,” Tevos whispered emotionally.
The halls were eerily quiet. Something Sparatus could appreciate on a normal day, but today, the quiet was too heavy.
“The elevators are through that door.” Udina pointed out, his voice echoing harshly off the metal.
“Yessir, I remember. We used these elevators often during our chase for Saren.”
Saren. A turian Sparatus had held in such high esteem. Only to learn about the nightmare the man really was. It was also the time he learned that maybe there were some humans that were worth spending time hearing.
Like Shepard. And later he learned, Anderson.
Sparatus followed orders like a good soldier. It was difficult sometimes, especially around new humans. Humans did, however, have such an amazing sense of hearing that he employed several on his personal guard. Always a human and turian together. The best hearing and eyesight a high ranking official could purchase.
Spectre Williams reported gun fire nearby, the only source being inside the elevator shafts. It wasn't until the noise was right on top of them that he had proof.
“Go!” Williams shouted as she covered their exit.
The sight that greeted them, however, wasn't escape. They were trapped.
“Shepard?” Williams stated, her skin seeming to lighten, her forehead beginning to shine.
Time seemed to stand still as the newest Spectre aimed her weapon at Shepard. Sparatus watched frozen in growing horror as Williams' body language became more tense as they spoke.
Then Shepard was laying her weapon aside, trying to reason with Williams, but from the turian councilors perspective, it did nothing to calm the demeanor of their escort.
“Just trust me, Ash!” Shepard begged as Udina pulled a gun on Tevos. Spectre Williams didn't see what was going on behind her as Shepard reached for her pistol.
The single shot was the most penetrating shot Sparatus had ever heard. A shot loosed from the second human Spectres rifle. A rifle aimed at Shepard.
[Councilor, your next appointment is here.]
“Thank you, please send her in.”
Pride was such a tricky word. Pride for ones planet, acceptable. Pride that forced himself to not see the truth, unacceptable.
“Commander. Please have a seat,” he said as he pointed to the oversized chair in front of his desk. “This isn't a formal meeting, so please call me Sparatus.”
“If this isn't formal, then what is it? I have too much to do to be sitting around exchanging pleasantries.”
Nodding, “So, talking about the weather is out then?” Not even a smirk from the red headed woman sitting across from him. It did little to calm his nerves. With a defeated sigh, he continued, “Commander, I requested this meeting for one reason.”
“To apologize.” Her stone frame and unchanged mask didn't help him, but he knew he deserved it after what he'd put her through. “First, I wished to apologize for my behavior in treating your evidence against Saren as nothing more than another battle between species.” With her nod he continued, “Next, for what I said and didn't do during your missions to retrieve Saren. He was our best operative and I refused to see that he had turned rebel. I do admit to having some hero-worship for the man.”
After a moment of silence, he once again met her stare. “I have come to respect your choice in humanities leader. Councilor Anderson is very thorough in his investigations, he's level headed, and he see's more than species. He is very turian. Something I forgot to see in myself these last few years.” Shaking the darker thoughts away, he got back on task. “After going over all of the information gathered, reports, and video footage from the original Normandy, I have come to conclude that there is a very serious threat on our horizon and that you were right. Are right.”
Her glare remained flat. He found that to be disturbing, but he was nearly done. If he was honest with himself, each sentence lifted weight off of his carapace.
“I don't know what Cerberus did to you, Shepard, but Anderson says that you are whole. Angry, but whole. If I've learned anything from your absence, it's that your trust is well-placed. You have my full support in your current endeavor to bring down the Collectors. It isn't much, I know, but my voice does carry weight in the Hierarchy. They will also hear all I have discovered on the Reapers. Vakarian will be fully compensated as well.”
His heart nearly leapt from his chest when she spoke, her voice flat. “Vakarian isn't interested in credits. He gets those from me. What he needs is good food, medical supplies, weapon upgrades, and medical treatment for his mother.”
His mandibles snapped closed when he realized she was done speaking. Peatra was ill?
“Yes, she is. Consider it classified.”
He hadn't realized he'd spoken aloud. “Of course, Commander. I'll look into it. Everything else will be waiting to be loaded at the docks.”
Shepard stood and walked towards the door, leaving a somewhat bewildered turian at his desk.
“Huh?” He answered dumbly.
“It takes a lot of inner strength to do what you just did. For that, I accept your apology.”
His shoulders fell, the weight completely gone. “Thank you, Commander.”
“Call me Shepard.”
Then she was gone, back to her duties or whatever it was that she did when her ship docked.
They became somewhat close over the following months. Nothing romantic came of it, not yet anyway. Though he sometimes wished for a more intimate closeness, there was far too much on both of their minds to fully commit.
Not with the reapers looming.
The shot grazed Shepard's cheek, though it didn't stop the Commander from pulling her pistol and shooting Udina in the chest.
For a few long moments there was nothing but silence as the Spectre's kept their weapons aimed at one another, Shepard's eyes burning with fire but her face showing no emotion. Vakarian was growling, a look of rage in his eyes that Sparatus felt in his heart.
“Udina was dirty, Williams. He was working for Cerberus.”
“But...I don't understand, Shepard! Why are you here then, why the same time Cerberus was trying to find us?”
Shepard returned her pistol, her frame showing nothing as Williams continued to aim. “My job. I was here for a meeting with Councilor Valern and the Executor to go over evidence on humanities leader. I followed Cerberus' assassin here.”
“And what about the robot? That is Cerberus.” the dark haired woman argued.
“This platform was Cerberus. In an effort to extract information from Mars, I was forced to take it over to keep the platform from destroying the Normandy. The program has been...deleted. I am EDI, part of the Normandy's crew.”
“What?” Williams whispered desperately.
The conversation was brought to an abrupt halt when Bailey entered the rooftop while spouting orders. “Secure it again, Roberts.”
“Lieutenant Williams, you are hereby being detained until I complete my investigation.” Bailey commanded as two C-Sec officers approached her, weapons drawn.
“Drop your weapon or my men will shoot,” he continued as if he hadn't heard her.
Sparatus took advantage of her shock, grabbing her weapon and quickly unloading it before dropping it to the ground. Councilor Tevos, though still shaken, removed the sniper rifle from the Spectre's armor and followed Sparatus.
“You can't do this! I'm-”
“A Spectre,” Bailey interrupted.
“Even Spectre's need to follow laws, Ash. Or we become Saren.” Shepard stated, her shoulders portraying her exhaustion.
“Shepard, you know I didn't have anything to do with this!” Williams raged.
Finally noticing her team still held their weapons at the ready, Shepard wordlessly motioned them to put them away. “I may not doubt you, Ash, I know you too well, but we all have to be investigated when something this big happens. Even me. On Earth.” Shepard nodded to the C-Sec officers. “Just follow your commanding officers orders, like soldiers are supposed to, and should your innocence be proven --that which I have no doubt, you will be released.”
“I can't believe this! Is this payback?”
“No. But I know how it feels to be branded a traitor. But for me, it was by my best friend. One that didn't bother to look at the evidence.” Shepard stood straight, her strength renewed. “Bailey, get your investigation underway. There is a lot of work to be done and we need everyone in this fight.”
“You got it, Shepard.”
“Garrus, contact Cortez for pickup. We'll secure the remaining Councilors while Bailey tends to the traitor.”
“On it.” Garrus replied turning away to relay orders.
Sparatus could see the wear this whole situation was having on Shepard. With the positions they were currently in, he could only watch helplessly.
They rode in the Normandy's shuttle while the robot, no artificial intelligence, EDI, collected and dispersed information.
“The Citadel is nearly secure, Shepard. The Councilor's homes and offices are once again ready for use.”
“Thank you, EDI.”
Within five hours since the evacuation call, they were finally able to return back to work. Sparatus, however, followed Bailey in silence.
The room they entered looked much the same as they did in the vids, except for a C-Sec interview room on the other side, there were cells. One of which holding Spectre Williams.
“Did she have any connection? Udina did put a lot into pushing her current status.”
Bailey rubbed an aching muscle in his shoulder, “Udina only did as he was told. Williams is clean.”
“I don't understand, Commander.”
“Udina, as much as he was a backstabbing dick, was also taking as many steps as he could to protect us. Cerberus somehow managed to turn him against that he was trying to protect.”
“Why? Why would he endanger so many?”
“We may never know, Councilor.”
Before Sparatus could speak again, C-Sec entered with a Commander Shepard following, their voices digitized.
[That'll be all, Officer, thank you.]
Instead of staying to listen to what he thought was a private conversation between old friends, Sparatus returned to work.
It wasn't until later in the day Sparatus learned why the second human spectre was being stationed under Hackett rather than Shepard.
Sparatus felt guilty listening and he wanted to leave, but he really needed the QEC.
[Why didn't Shepard accept your request, Williams?]
“Because I shot her, Admiral.”
[You shot the only person the reapers fear?]
“Because I couldn't accept that she wasn't Cerberus, Sir.”
[My word wasn't enough? You let your own feelings get in the way of facts?]
[If we weren't in a war, you'd be tried for treason.]
“I understand, Admiral.”
After a heavy moment of silence, Hackett continued. [Report to me. Is there anything else?]
“Sir? Why did Udina put my name forward?”
[He didn't. Shepard did. Hackett out.]
Sparatus stood aside as a pale and somewhat lost young woman exited the QEC room. Shepard had told him once that you can't always change a persons view of things. The only thing you could do was wait until they got their wake-up call. He'd gotten his over a cold cup of tea. If Williams was willing to start climbing her way back up, Sparatus knew Shepard would bring her back in to her family.
For now, he had work to do, then a quick dinner meeting with Shepard. It wasn't what Sparatus wanted, but he knew Shepard would be unable to give anything more at this time. Not with the reapers on her heels. It wasn't ideal, but the least he could do was help her leave his office with a lighter step...
...and perhaps a smirk upon her lips.
I have several fics in the works. Like...four lol. I've spent the last 5 months of my pregnancy dealing with severe morning sickness. It sucks. Now, as I approach month 6, lil man is allowing me to eat better and giving me more energy. I do hope to become a little more active here again. I miss you guys!! Thanks for sticking with me :D