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Tagren (Tag) Shepard
Vanguard, Spacer, War Hero.

There are people who always struggle with their position, who always complain and rush forward to earn best, to show everyone their value… Those were the 90% of the casualties at any campaign, every soldier knew this – and this knowledge was that one thing that made a man with a gun a soldier.

Tagren Shepard was a soldier, he never wanted any glory and he was contempt with everything he had: from the shotgun and the armor to the comrades-in-arms be it state-of-the-art weapon and hardened war veterans or an old rusty slugthrower and a bucnh of green newbies. He followed orders and he did his duty, no matter what he never complained: 'Make do with what you have, some don`t have even this!' the sergeant in the Training Camp used to say… Tagren remember those words for his entire life… both of them!

So being locked up in the dark tight cell of the Normandy`s guardhouse was fine, as Kasumi would probably say – there could be rats here! The rough bunk and petty meal were the least of his inconvenience right now – the charges and the heavy burden on his conscience were the worst: 304932 – these six figures haunted him every moment, every second since he pressed that thousand times cursed button! Sometimes Tag was even glad he was going to face trial… to end this waking nightmare one way or another!

His 'jailer' the Samson-looking pal by the name James Vega was a nice pal, if a bit too mouthy, if a manner he reminded Tagren of himself, and in different circumstance they would probably become friends, but Shepard had no real wish to talk left alone joke at the moment! This guy has been guarding him for several days now; though Commander had no real intention to escape… it would only make things worse! But still… such evil irony – they are bringing him back on the Earth for Trial on his own Ship, the Normandy!

Of course after all he had done Tagren knew he deserved worse than this… Most of all he was afraid to meet his mother, to see her face… to see the disappointment and pain in her eyes! Shepard sighed and looked at his left hand again – they confiscated even the prosthesis: everything that could be counted as a weapon or somehow represent threat to others… Tagren`s right wrist was clad into the steel bracer, the inhibitor that was meant to prevent any possible use of Biotics… Even a disabled man he was still counted a threat to others, good thing they did not pluck out the implants from his head – thanks for that!
Like they was trying to cut off the fangs of the captive tiger…

Anderson arrived a week ago with company of dozen or so Alliance soldiers, Shepard already knew what they were here for, and he did not resist or somehow deny his role in what happened in the Bahack system a few weeks ago.


"Admiral Anderson?"

The two old friends were standing in front of each other, exchanging sights and waiting silently. Anders was looking into Tag`s eyes just as he was looking into his… There were so many feelings in the old Admiral`s sight, so many: anger, frustration, confusion, doubts, shades of old memories and pity tied up into one knot with strong rope of disappointment and pain.

Shepard`s eyes showed nothing – nothing but regret and remorse. There was no anger towards the old mentor for what he was about to do, no fear… nothing except the guilt and pain. Anderson took a few more moments to examine Commander`s face: he was just as he remembered him… yet so very different: no habitual oblique scars through his face – the new glowing ones took their places, those were the seams!

It was him, but… not him at the same time! David sighed lightly for his companions not to notice and then put on the usual mask of cold determination he always used. No matter what he felt for the tall man in the black outfit in front of him he knew his duty!

The main thing Tagren remembered about him being arrested was… how quite it was! Nobody said a word – not when he stepped forward and let soldiers clad him in the irons, not when he was stripped of his omnitool and equipped with inhibitor, not when they made Tali disconnect the synthetic hand she constructed for her lover… He had heard her quite sobs from under the helm, but nothing more than that. Not when he was taken here, to the guardhouse, not when Anderson gave his once favorite 'student' last long glance… Not a word!

The only thing was the quite "I love you" he whispered to Tali at their last moment together, before he was taken away.

Admiral took command of the vessel and now they were going to the Earth; Tag did not ask for anything except for one thing – he took old mentor`s word that he would treat his crew mates as he would do every soldier, especially one particular quarian.

There was nothing really to do in the custody, so Shepard preferred to sleep – it was easier to kill time and… he already forgot the last time he had a truly good sleep, not to mention it was a good remedy from the guilt! Though he missed one thing – not the comfortable double bed of the captain`s quarters, not the bright light, fishes in tank that he always forgot to feed or music… No, he missed this feeling of a dear and loving woman lying next to him!

God that was almost unbearable - she was so close, only one level higher... and yet so far away! Shepard felt so lonely here, so lonely… He remembered well how they were going to sleep, how he held Tali in his arms, how she looked at him through thick foggy glass, how soothing her touch was and how calmingly her breathers vented air on his neck every time the young quarian took another breath…

It was not as either of them wanted, but it was the best they could get – and they were happy! And those rare moments when two lovers could truly be together were priceless; Tag remembered every one of those nights, every moment, every touch, every kiss, every sigh and moan… every arch of her body, and every smile on her beautiful face. The sound of her voice, the color of her skin, the silver shine of her eyes, he could not live without her! Shepard needed little to be happy – and this little was Tali! Damn how much he wanted to be the Drell right now… so he could close his eyes and dive into the memories, to be with her again and again…

No visitors were allowed to the prisoner, and there were no exceptions… The fact that Admiral replaced most of the crew with Alliance soldiers that barely knew Shepard didn`t help either - noone would do him a favor, for them he was just a criminal, a terrorist.

"Commander!" Tag shook his head and looked at James, the dream of every woman with irokez was standing near the door with the tray. "Your lunch…"

Tag nodded and sat straight on the bed, it was not very convenient with one hand, but he did not even hissed – Shepard did not want some pumped up greenhorn punk to see him weak…

James looked at famous Commander Shepard and could not believe his eyes - for many years he dreamt to meet him, but reality slapped him over the face! It was very painful to see a hardened veteran, a hero, the first human Spectre and the savior of the Citadel and the Council like this... All those pictures he saw on Extranet and in news, all those shining medals and countless words of thanks... Now he saw the tired eldery crippled man before him - the reality was cruel, to Commander most of all.

"I`ll take the drink." Tagren came to the lattice and reached the plastic glass through the bars, after that Commander returned to the bed without saying a word. James shrug and put the tray away.

"Suit yourself, here it is if you change your mind…"

Silence was his respond. Shepard simply sat on the bed and sipped some of the drink – though he was hungry he could not make himself swallow anything, funny thing he even did not know what he was drinking at the moment, like there were no flavors in this world anymore!

When the glass was empty Tag lowered his eyes and read the label – out of curiosity.

'The Tupari… lemon. Wonderful, I hate this shit and what a luck – lemon is the only thing in the entire universe that I`m allergic to: Full Set! This day is getting better and better.' Tag found strength for a light smirk before draping the glass into the clot and throwing it away into the corner, to the pile of the rest of those!

"I have heard that you are the Vanguard!" James attempted another doomed effort to knot the talk, "Must be cool? Hah, I`d love to charge some enemies on sight and not fire from covers!"

"Keep the attitude and your next sleep would be in a body bag, kid." Tagren sighed tiredly and leaned on the wall for support, feeling cold metal with his back and nape. At his 32 he for some reason felt himself already a very old man...

"Fair point!" James chuckled factitiously. "Have a story to share?"

Shepard swipped his face tiredly, the very air here had been pressing heavily on his already not young shoulders.

"Look son, you are a fine pal, but do me a favor and mute decibels... I`m not in the mood for intimate talk? not with you anyways!"

Vega could not help but grin, this grin s few seconds turned into the reverberating laughter.

"Alright, I`ll let you rest. If you need anything let me know."

"Good…" Shepard whispered caressing the mutilated hand, getting ready to lay asleep again, but then he opened his eyes and looked at Vega more attentively. "Hey kid!"

"What, old man?"

Tagren smirked, he was starting to like this pal!

"A favor for a favor… I will tell you all stories about war that I know and if you`ll be a good boy you`ll even get the autograph!"

James rose from his seat and came closer to the lattice door.

"Your conditions?"

'Straight to the point, good!'

"I want to see someone… Privately!" Tag stood up as well, slowly approaching, his tired unshaved face sparked with hope. "Nothing special, just get her here."

"Impossible!" James shook his head, he was clearly sorry. "There are two guards out the outer door all the time; nobody is to come in except for me and Admiral! I`ll try to lead anyone in and we`ll be sharing this 'suit'!"

Tag lowered his head, exhaling heavily – the last hope was gone.

"But…" Vega got his attention again; he stood back to his table and returned shortly, "I can give the message to her! Admiral did not instruct me on that!"

He winked and offered Commander the holo-pen and the data-pad. Those were completely harmless and could not be used as weapon even with good wish!

"Savvy soldier! Prepair to listen as soon as I`ll finish... Good old grandpa has a few dozen stories for you!" Tag offered James a hand and soldier shook it gladly, "And put on pampers though, trust me you`ll need them!"

Tagren accepted the tablet nodded – some didn`t have even this! He stood back and sat on the bed and started to write:

'Dear Tali…'

Shepard did not think what to write, the pen in his fingers was moving itself, accurately curving the words of love and care on the glowing orange tablet. Tag could not remember when was the last time he wrote a letter, it was so… old fashioned at the age of Extranet, com-links and omnitools with their holographic calls. And yet it was the only way available at the moment, and Tag was happy to have it!

He was sitting there and writing, like a student in the classroom 200 years ago… Yes it was not how he wanted, but it was the best he could get, and Tagren Shepard made do with what he had – just as always!

'... I miss you, my angel... so much!'

A story about events that takes place after the Arrival and are based on this comic of Bioware Mass Effect Comviction:

I don`t have much clue on James Vega Character but as far as I saw from comic he admires and respects Commander Shepard, I hope I showed that well.

No major spoilers here.
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artfreak959 Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2012  Student Writer So you just have to keep outdoing yourself huh? I see how it is =D

Wow, Ren...amazing story. Amazing. If i was to try and point out a favorite part i'd be highlighting the whole thing :love: I've had a few ideas on things i could do for post-arrival pre-ME3 stories...but this one was just an awesome, awesome story!

It really made me wonder if Lorraine would go quietly...possibly...but im not sure...she can be pretty spur of the moment ^^.

You did such an amazing job with the tension and sadness Tag and Tali feel at being separated. You also show something very interesting. Shepard is indeed considerd old for the military...and i find it interesting you also seem to express how emotionally, Shepard is just so much more mature and aged than Vega...which is true but still quite a fun concept. And i just LOVED how you portrayed the guilt. "The rough bunk and petty meal were the least of his inconvenience right now – the charges and the heavy burden on his conscience were the worst: 304932 – these six figures haunted him every moment, every second since he pressed that thousand times cursed button!" that line almost brought me to tears just because of what it That's...harsh. And you do a marvelous job of making a reader reconsider if that was even the right choice to begin with...necessary or no.

One of your best yet...thanks so very much for just a...mind-blowing read. I'm still tired and out of things from all the stuff ive had wrong with ill probably read this again in a few days and this will all hit me and ill write you anxiously telling you how amazing this was once until completely've given everyone alot to think about before March 6th...:glomp:
DOWModder Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
You always find a way to make me happy, Merrit! :hug: I don`t know honestly why I have written this story - I just sit and did, and I`m very happy to hear you like it and that every emotion I tried to show there is shown well... or at least noticeable. ^^;

We`ll see what hapens in Mass Effect 3 but accordin to that comic, Conviction Shepard will be trialed and I`m really itching to see it. I just imagined how horrible this is - to be a hero and then in one moment become a worst criminal in known history... for doing what was necessary.

Anyway I digress. Once again you have my thanks, many-many thanks for this wonderful review, dear. :hug: Yours are always most detailed and descriptive, which I`m grateful for! :D
artfreak959 Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2012  Student Writer
thanks so much, and Im so glad you wrote this story! Im so excited for MArch...and this story just has me itching to see this trial! What a sacrifice

Hero to Zero. Literally. :hug:

Oh! Ps. (see i told u i would remember stuff =D ) I LOVED how Tag is thinking about how he wishes he was Thane so he could remember things about him and Tali. That and that she had to remove his hand...again...almost in tears! :tears:
DOWModder Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
That was the idea yes, since Tali designed this thing she`d be the one to disasemble it. Otherwise Tag could be hurt, and she`d never let that happen. Ah and yes - again... I did`t think about it, but you probably right! Nice thinking Merrit! :D
artfreak959 Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2012  Student Writer
thanks! and again, this was an amazing story! blew me away...your writing just keeps getting better and better!
DOWModder Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Alriht... you know what happens now!! 3...2...1... :onfire:

Thanks dear! :hug:
artfreak959 Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2012  Student Writer
lol! you are so very welcome! :love:
DAGIRL101 Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Awesome story, Ren!!!!! :la: :la: :la: :la: The dialogue betwen Tag and James is great, especially when James agrees to get a message to Tali. I didn't read the comic but based on what I've read here and of whatever else I found about James Vega, he's seems like good decent character. :nod: He also seems like a respectful soldier, just like Tagren. :D

As for Tagren and Tali, that made me very sad, those two being separated... :tears: Being separated from the one you love is just so heartbreaking. :cries: I hope that these two reunite some time soon because seeing them sad makes me sad and they are just such a cute couple. Those two really love each other.

Great story, really sad and I hope Tagren and Tali reunite soon. Take care and stay safe, Ren!!!!! :iconglomp2plz:
DOWModder Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Awwww! Come here, Rae! :glomp: Gotcha! :XD: Thank you for taking time to read and of course for the most wonderful review and fave! :hug:

Vega is a promising character and he admires Shepard (I hope he won`t try to make a pass at my Tag in the game!) and of course their dialogue - well Tag is a hardened veteran though he is only 32, and James is a good soldier but not very experienced one - so Shepard sees him as a rookie that has much to learn. As I said James reminds Tag of himself when he was younger! :-)

And don`t worry `bout Tag and Tali - everything will be alright, it`s just... a hard time for them. Don`t be sad, dear! :hug:

Thanks again for kind words, Rae! :highfive: you are such a good friend! :-) Be well, hun!
Savvid Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Coooooooooooooooool!!!! ;) I read the comic before and I like that you went there too, I had already an image with Jane (still in progress though) being grounded, but saved it for later ;) Respect on how Tag handles it - silence is gold hah :XD: And his dialogue with Vega is awesome!!! hahahahaah nice humor Tag ;) Nice set up Ren, and of course your 'writing Technic' as always is awesome!!! :la: :la: And yes, Vega is a "Shepard lover", kinda idolizes him, and I really was like 'F*** YEAH' when I saw his reaction about what he was listening on TV! He must be an interesting guy... :nod:
DOWModder Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Agree! :nod: James promising to be an interesting character! :-) I didn`t know I had any technic but thanks! :hug: Yan, you always find words to make me smile, dear! :glomp:

it`s also good that you like the humor - Tag knows his jokes are not very clever, but he makes fun of it! :D Thank you for review, Yan! :hug:

P.S. Out with that Jane picture, Yan, me wants to watch her! :la:
Savvid Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:XD: heehehehehe Will do... :salute:
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January 1, 2012
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