Swingin' Saturday: The Swing of Things, Chapter 12

Kaidan’s hackles rose a bit. He’d heard rumors of an organization within the military, an analog of the distasteful Humans First political movement that held the occasional rally on the Citadel and, in his opinion, set back the cause of human integration into galactic society every time they opened their mouths.

Such a speciesist group within the Alliance would have access to technology and funding about which the rabble busily spouting human superiority in the Zakera Ward wouldn’t even know. It would explain the band’s presence at the cross-species receptions as the only people in the room not subjected to careful scans.

“Is that what this is about?” Kaidan unconsciously kept his voice low, the wheels turning in his head. A scandal confirming the existence of Cerberus, it there was such a thing, within the military could destroy the tenuous alliance that held the two species together on the SR-1 project.

The Council might well release the Turians from their treaty obligations, should they uncover proof that such an organization’s reach extended high enough. The Ambassador for the entirety of humanity—and whoever had enough clout to approve the combo playing these fêtes instead of continuing their regular duties—would certainly fit that definition.

“It’s the only explanation that makes sense,” Anderson responded, “at least the only one I can come up with.” He frowned, the thin brows lowering over his prominent, amber eyes. “I have some history with the Turians, a story not many people know. It happened…some time ago.”

The captain glanced around again, letting the sound of the fountain fill the air between the men while he chose his words. “You know I’m an N7,” he said almost shyly, “but did you know I almost became the first human Spectre?” Kaidan sat back in shock. He hadn’t thought known the Council had even considered making a human a part of their private—and secretive—enforcement arm.

Anderson laughed wryly at the younger man’s surprise. “Yeah, that one doesn’t make the rounds. Neither side talks about it much. It’s an ugly story.”

So it was. Anderson explained his first and only Spectre mission and the sabotage of it by his so-called evaluator, a Turian named Saren. “He’s a nasty piece of work,” Anderson said. His eyes went cold and his voice flat. “He killed hundreds of people to make me look bad without so much as blinking and then accused me of blowing his cover and forcing him into it. Of course the Council took his word over mine and that was the end of the line as far as humanity’s chance at having a Spectre went.”

He ruefully shook his head. “It set the cause of our entire species back by twenty years. After what happened with Saren, someone from Cerberus approached me—quietly, of course. I turned them down flat.” The captain’s stormy expression underscored his distaste. “Humanity has enough trouble convincing the other species we should stand beside them without that kind of crap.”

Kaidan nodded his agreement. “You’d think they’d at least wait until we had a seat on the Council before they start antagonizing the rest of the galaxy. Saren would be as big an ass if he was Human or Salarian and so would’ve that idiot they sent to train us at Brain Camp. Since we’re the newcomers I think that makes us the aliens, personally.” He shrugged philosophically. “People are the same all over the galaxy. All Cerberus could do is prove they’re as bad as the so-called aliens they hate so much.”

Anderson looked closely at Kaidan. “Brain Camp?” He glanced at his watch. “I have to get back but tell me the story later. If we’ve both been burned by Turians and Cerberus is involved in this, odds are they think we’d be sympathetic to their cause, or at least unlikely to raise a stink if we found out about it.”

With a thoughtful nod Kaidan rose to leave. “I can see that. Do we say anything to the rest?”

“We’ll have to,” Anderson answered. “Dr. Chakwas has no patience with any humans-first organization but Joker, Pressly? I just don’t know. What if either of them has a similar story or is part of Cerberus? And Jenkins is just a green kid. He might buy into that pro-Human garbage if one of our group feeds it to him.”

The men frowned at one another. A confrontation might rip their comfortable band apart but this secret would only fester if the two kept it to themselves. The others had to be curious about what Kaidan had seen inside the broken pin.

“We have to assume they have our quarters and practice rooms bugged, as well” Kaidan said, thinking of the times he’d had the others in his apartment.

“If people high enough in the Alliance to sign off on this little escapade are involved then we have to be cautious at work, too.” The pair looked warily around the broad walk and up the towers that suddenly seemed to loom with threat. What had earlier looked clean and bright now felt sterile, cleared of obstruction and exposed.

Kaidan tried to shake off the feeling of being watched. “Let’s suggest a drink after practice tonight.”

Anderson agreed. “We’re all adults and they deserve to know how they’re being used. Maybe this will get the brass to kick us loose. It’s been a great ride but I’m ready to get back out there where I belong.”

Kaidan’s heart sank. He still performed his regular duties and tried to ignore Joker’s increasingly frequent complaints about being grounded. If they couldn’t clear the air and nip their doubts in the bud, however, the group was as good as finished anyway.

“I’ll see you tonight,” Anderson said as he stood. “Political bullshit calls.”

For the afternoon, Kaidan put his questions from his mind as best he could. Practice that night faltered with the two strongest musicians distracted and Chakwas missing again. After two frustrating hours the captain suggested they abandon the music for some whisky, to which everyone readily agreed.

Joker, as ever, managed to arrive first. He’d found the darkest, noisiest booth in the place, no mean feat in the popular club. He grinned up at Kaidan, as ever proud of his wily ways. Kaidan found himself hoping the pilot was not involved in the skull-duggery. For all their acerbic exchanges he genuinely liked their keyboard player.

Pressly, Anderson, and Jenkins arrived in short order and Chakwas made a surprise appearance as well. “The gang’s all here, Captain,” Joker said. “What’s crawling around your shorts tonight? You could barely keep a beat.”

Chakwas raised her eyebrows. “You, David? You’re like a rock on that bass.”

Instead of answering, Anderson turned to Kaidan. “Tell them what you found.”

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