CHAPTER 7: TRAP
The elevator came to a halt at the Embassy level and opened its doors. Shepard stepped out and headed toward Anderson's office. Her omni-tool blinked and she pulled up the messages – one from Gardner with all of the items he needed for the ship, one from Traynor with the location of the florist, one from Dr. Chakwas with the manifest of medical supplies to trade with Tactus and one from her mother. She opened the last one:
I just arrived and got your message from Specialist Traynor. I'll see you in a little while for dinner.
She sighed heavily as she stood in front of Anderson's office door.
Hopefully this doesn't take long.
She pressed the keypad and the doors slid open. Anderson's personal assistant looked up from behind his desk.
"Ah! Commander Shepard! Councilor Anderson is expecting you. Please go on in," he said as he opened the doors to the inner office.
Anderson and the Salarian Dalatrass were arguing but quickly stopped when the doors opened and they both turned to see her in the doorway.
"Shepard!!" Anderson called happily walking toward her, arm outstretched to greet her.
She took his hand in hers as they embraced each other in a warm hug. Her mentor from their days on the first Normandy, they had become close after her father passed away. Even though he would never take her father's place, she regarded him with the same type of affection and respect.
They broke apart and she moved toward the Dalatrass with her arm outstretched in greeting. The Dalatrass took her hand briefly then let go, walking over to the table and chairs near the window opposite the entry.
Shepard turned her attention to Anderson quietly asking, "What was so important that I needed to come here?"
"Well Shepard, there are a number of things we need to discuss, but let's not keep the Dalatrass waiting."
They walked over to the Dalatrass and sat in the chairs around the table.
"Well, Shepard, I'm sure you heard the discussion Anderson and I were having."
"Not exactly, but the volume was a little hard to ignore."
"I came to confirm the rumors I heard about you Shepard."
"And what would those be?" she scrutinized the Dalatrass.
"Well to begin, it would seem that Primarch Victus has asked for some help defending Palaven."
"Yes, that's true…."
"And that help would come from the Krogan…"
"True again Dalatrass. Would you mind telling me where this is going??"
"It would seem that this gives the Krogan the upper hand. Humanity needs the Turians. The Turians need the Krogan. You don't think that Urdnot Wreave won't use that?"
"For what exactly?" Shepard asked sharply, not bothering to hide her irritation, wanting the Dalatrass to get to the point.
"Let's leave that there for a moment shall we?" The Dalatrass eyed her carefully.
Shepard was silent, donning an unreadable mask, refusing to let anything convey what she thinking or feeling. Anderson stared at the two females. He already knew where this was going. It's what he and the Dalatrass were arguing about when Shepard arrived.
"What do you know about the Chimera facility, Commander?"
Everything stopped. Her breath caught in her throat. She was deathly still as the color drained from her face.
Breathe dammit! – willing her lungs to take in air. Her heart was racing a mile a minute, pounding out every second.
"Shall I tell you about the facility, Commander?"
"No," Shepard ground out, so low it was almost impossible to hear. She already knew about the facility; more than she ever wanted to know.
Oh God. Don't say any more…
She turned to Anderson. Her sapphire blue eyes blazing with hurt, betrayal, and anger.
"How could she know? You told me it would be CLASSIFIED!! NO ONE would EVER know." Her voice was ragged and hoarse, barely able to get the words out.
Anderson looked away, unable to face her.
"He didn't tell us anything," the Dalatrass solemnly began, "We suspected something was amiss when no one could confirm that you were on Earth. You dropped off the galaxy. The MOST valuable asset in the Alliance, to Earth, to humanity and yet no one could find you. Obviously, whoever did the research on finding a place for you didn't dig deep enough. The Chimera facility was founded and funded by the Salarian Union about a hundred years ago. Over time, a new facility was built and the Union no longer needed the old one. It was only logical that they make it available to the Council to use as needed. With humanity's new acquisition of a seat on the Council….." She didn't have to finish.
Shepard finished it in her head staring at Anderson …I was granted access by association.
"I couldn't find anywhere else that was well equipped enough to take care of you," Anderson said softly. "I had no other choice -" He stopped not knowing how to continue "…I didn't know what else to DO! I classified and encrypted everything. It was the most advanced research, top secret, classified facility that we had access to. Only a select few have access…..it was the safest place I could think of to put you…" he sighed heavily.
Shepard was silent. A million thoughts raced through her head…who else knew? Who else could find out? What do we do now...wait..
She turned to look at the Salarian, studying her face, trying to discern any nuance that would indicate what the Dalatrass wanted.
"Shepard, the implications of what the three of us know are highly controversial – enough to start another war between humanity and the Turians. But we are not above using it to serve the greater good of the galaxy."
Shepard still said nothing, waiting for the Dalatrass to continue.
The Dalatrass got up and walked to the window, staring out at all the ships arriving with refugees.
She continued, "We are not opposed to the Turians and Krogan agreeing to a Treaty that will benefit us all in this War. We are, however, concerned with the terms of said Treaty. Therefore, once you have the Primarch and Wreave aboard your ship to discuss the terms of this Treaty, you WILL invite me aboard as well to participate in the discussion."
Shepard didn't like being manipulated – she HATED it. Cerberus was bad enough but this was too far! She stood up, glaring fiercely at the Salarian, blue fire burning brightly in her eyes.
"How DARE you???! What the hell gives YOU the right to dictate any of this??"
The Dalatrass whirled around, her robes swirling and locked eyes with Shepard. "How dare I??? How dare you! You created this with your recklessness!" She spat, "Did you not think there would not be consequences?? I knew it was too soon for humanity to be on the Council. Your species is far too young to handle such responsibility. If I were in your position, I would choose my next words very, very, carefully." She crossed her arms, waiting for Shepard's answer.
She's right. I did this. I have no right to argue. What have I done??
Shepard sank back into the chair.
"Okay, Dalatrass. Once the Primarch and Wreave are ready to discuss the terms of the Treaty, I will let you know."
"Good. The matter is settled." The Dalatrass walked toward the door, robes flaring out behind her.