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"The Seven Second Shutdown."

The Asari glanced up from a number of holographic displays, making eye contact with the Turian across from her. By habit, her eyes traced over his Oma Ker markings before returning to her displays and paperwork.

"If you aren't to explain your meaning, Telos, I don't believe I'll address you in reply."

In the edge of her vision, she watched as he looked over the interior of her office, and she saw the very moment that a comment about her lack of restraint regarding decorations and sentimental objects came to his mandibles and was swallowed. She allowed herself the barest smirk, not that she'd ever let him see the expression. Light through her windows reflected from a passing air car played faintly over shelves covered in carefully sorted objects of all types, a desk immaculately kept, and the old shotgun mounted in a glass display case on the opposite wall. Telos made a very faint churr of annoyance.

"I think you know well what I mean." She felt, rather than saw, his gaze turn to her. "Seven seconds of zero Geth activity, and we're only collecting the basic details now. Most of what we're getting is from what few agents the STG could place among the Quarian corporations on Rannoch and what we can get from dredging conspiracy theories."

She raised her head, the faintest echo of amusement hanging about her features. "Ah, that's what has you all up in a twist." She swiped away a number of windows and double checked the security measures for her office, noting with satisfaction a series of green indicators.

"The Quarians are playing with fire. I know it, you know it, and Sallik knows it." Telos stepped forward, placing his claws on her desk. "We need to do something before they get burned."

Pholan stood as well, making level eye contact with the Turian. "And we agreed how we were going to act, Telos. I know you don't like to see people suffer, but..." she sighed. "Sometimes, you need to let someone burn themselves to warn the others off."

"At least let us place a task force. Not something large, just something that could pull Rannoch's rearparts out of the fire. A small fleet, a few troop carriers, doing exercises nearby- and not close enough to attract suspicion."

Pholan gave him a sympathetic look. "I know you don't like the idea. I don't like it much more than you do, I can assure you of that, but that does not mean that I will shirk from what must be done... or take steps that risk greater reaction." The Asari turned to the window, clothes catching the light in scintillating patterns and throwing them all over the room. The Presidium was moving into the twilight before the night cycle, light turning from yellow white to amber as the screens in the roof simulated sunset. "If there really is an AI threat on Rannoch-" a glance back at Telos, "IF, then we cannot step in in any official capacity until the Quarian government requests our intervention. You know this, Telos."

He growled, mandibles shifting in displeasure. "It doesn't mean I have to like the answer. AI's don't operate at this scale, both of us know this, this is something... different. Bigger. And I, I am worried that the Quarians might suffer for it." He held up his claws. "I know that it doesn't change the political reality of the situation. All I'm requesting is that we retask a patrol fleet, say... following reports of piracy and body trafficking coming out of the Quarian systems. There was a burst of arrests and raids on Rannoch, the Quarian fleets are sweeping local systems for anything that looks off- all we must do is make an offer of assistance, a gesture of goodwill to a client race and a reminder of our continued willingness to enforce Citadel laws."

The Asari turned from the view of the Presidium, now almost entirely dark as it got, giving the Turian a smile. "Careful now, Telos, or I might think you're aiming to put me out of a job." She stepped to her desk, bringing up the holographic display. A few swipes, a little reading and a signature, and she nodded to him. "If you can get Sallik to sign off on your plan, I'll add my own support, as well as sending Asari Republic forces to join the task force."

Telos bowed, shallow and quick. "That's all I need, a little assurance so I can sleep a little more sound. I'll speak to Sallik, call a meeting tomorrow, hopefully have forces moving by the day after, hm?"

"It is all we can hope for, Tellos. Spirits guide you."

He nodded to her, turning and walking out of the office, leaving the Asari to her paperwork.

Two days later, Turian, Asari and Salarian vessels moved through the black, towards Quarian space.

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About the author

Cammy Deer

  • Man in the Van with a Plan

Bio: Writer of many fics, reader of many more.

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