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Human Embassy, Presidium, Citadel, Widow, Serpent Nebula, October 7, 2196
Chen Wei-Len, the current human Councilor packed enough muscle on her short frame to bench press James Vega with one hand. She waved at me to take a seat.
She was on a call, “We will have plenty of time to iron out all the details with Atara over dinner. Yes, I know that your government wants to move up the date for the joint exercise,” she nodded, “but we may have to cut back on our commitment if that is the case. We don’t have any carrier groups available for next month. The Sagan is being retrofitted on Tyr and the others are on deployment…no the Einstein is a training carrier now and part of the Arcturus fleet…fine Sparatus I’ll make some calls. See you tonight.” She switched off the com and turned to greet me,”I am sorry to keep you waiting, commander.” Her handshake was strong. “Normally I don’t deal with the minutiae of fleet deployments. That’s what military liaisons are for but turian intel detected a rise of pirate attacks on lone merchant ships using fighters launched from converted cargo ships. Now they are scrambling to come up with effective countermeasures.”
“The turians have their carriers,” I said.
She sat behind her desk, “They want us to play Op-For for them while the quarians provide the targets. Allows for dissimilar training as well as improved cooperation between allied forces.”
I smiled, “Alliance Navy, I take it?”
“Twenty-Three years. Everything from frigates to dreadnoughts and back again. I spent most of my time at administrative posts and CiCs. I picked up a few organizational tricks along the way and put them to good use wrangling resources for the Crucible during the war. When Osoba retired Hackett offered me the job of Councilor. And when your old CO offers you a job, you take it,” she poured herself a tall glass of water. “Managed to tick off a few people in the diplomatic corps along the way but even they are not stupid enough to cross the most popular Prime Minister in Alliance history. In others words, business as usual. Which is the reason why I wanted to talk you, commander. I want your take on what happened on Rannoch.”
“I’m sure the Admiral forwarded my report to Council,” I said. I done my fair share of politicking in the past, it came with the role of mercenary company CEO. Which meant that I knew when a politician asked you for your opinion on something you threaded with care.
“He did and according to the analysis of the data, the virus used to attack the geth had Cerberus code in it,” she leaned forward on her desk. “Correct?”
“And Reaper code as well, ambassador,” I said.
“Yes, the Reapers. We have people working on the Reaper front. But we need to cover our bases and that’s where you come in, commander,” she down half the glass in one pull.
“I’m listening,” I said.
She drained the rest of the glass, “The quarians referred the investigation to the Council. And we, in our eternal wisdom, agreed that this was a matter of galactic peace and agreed to investigate it. Normally we would assign a Specter to the investigation but we have none to spare. If it were up to me, I would slap a Specter badge on your chest and send you on your way.”
“Wait, you’re considering me for the Specters?” I asked.
“Why not? With your service record you would be perfect for the job. You have a knack for getting things done. But Tevos, Councilor Tevos, vetoed every candidate in the last ten years. She is desperate to help her people. We have done everything, everything, we can for them. If we sent troops they would have either take sides or come under fire from all factions, that is if we knew which factions to support. Every week a new would be matriarch makes a leadership claim over the asari. We don’t even know if the aid we sent is reaching the right people. Our resources are stretched thin, very thin. That’s why we are focusing our efforts on the Terminus System. Once we stabilize our borders we can concentrate on the asari,” she said with a sigh.
“She has that much power?”
“Technically she has no power whatsoever. Without a government to represent, she shouldn’t be on the Council,” the ambassador tapped her fingers on the desk, “However, she is the reason the core of the asari fleet is now guarding the Citadel and not threatening to bomb their own people into submission. Not to mention she is the one keeping the lid on the whole situation. Imagine if the fighting spilled beyond asari space. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of elite biotic special forces troops with an emphasis on guerrilla warfare carrying out their own private wars across Citadel space. The turians wouldn’t put with it. They send troops, we would have to do the same and well….”
“Exactly. So now we need to nip this Cerberus thing in bud. We can not have them running around doing god knows what on top of everything else. Your job, commander, is to find them and put a stop to whatever is that they are doing. Will give you all the resources we can spare, but-”
“I’m supposed to do a Specter’s job without any of the authority that comes with it,” I said.
“And that is the situation we find ourselves in. I believe you are the best person for the job. So do the geth, the quarians and Admiral Shepard. I’ll do whatever I can to keep the Council off your back. You will have to resolve this issue as quickly and quietly as possible,” she said.
I failed to stop Cerberus once and it cost Anderson his life. I wasn’t about to let them succeed again.
“You can count on me, ambassador,” I said.
She got up from her chair and shook my hand, “Good.”
“What about the Kursk? She still in her shakedown cruise,” I said.
She winked, “Not anymore, commander. Good luck and godspeed.”
I thought about the ambassador’s words on the shuttle back to the docking bay. I would need a good team to take on Cerberus. I could count on Pasha and Utah, but the rest where working with the Batarian Assembly.
The canopy shattered.
The bullet slammed into my stomach.
The shuttle nosedived into the Presidium lake.
Pain wracked my body on impact.
Cold water rushed in.
My heart beat faster as the water reached my chin.
I was in too much pain to move.
Lights flashed outside.
“COMMANDER! Commander! commander! comman-”