Ganis Vandrel stretched out on his bunk, as he was taller than most Turians the already too small bed was decidedly uncomfortable. Kicking his feet out of bed, he stood and made his way to the washroom. Staring at his reflection in the mirror, he shrugged dragging a talon over the latest scar on his face. His red skin was marred by such scars, received in more than his fair share of fire fights.
The First Contact War, that's what the humans
were calling it; and there was no sign of anything even resembling a peace, between the Human Alliance and the Turians.
Ganis left the washroom, swung left and headed towards the elevator. As the doors were closing a grey skinned Turian jogged to the door and stuck an arm in, preventing the doors from closing.
"Major Vandrel, you're to report to the helm, the General is looking for you."
"Thank you Corporal, I'll go there now," he nodded a farewell as the doors closed.
Ganis nodded to a few men on his way towards the helm, he was still getting used to the salutes. Word was that he was about to be given a battle field commission. Commander, and possibly the chance at commanding his own ship; it was everything he had worked for, his father had died when he was young and his mother long before that. Everything he had done in his life was to make his father proud of him, wherever he was.
Ganis was what they called, a lifer. He had entered the military at fifteen and now that he was thirty-two he could retire, maybe join C-sec, and take a mate. He shook his head with a slight flutter of his mandibles chuckling at the thought of him in a civilian role. That life wasn't for him.
Pulling himself to attention as he entered the bridge, he waited for General Victus to turn and recognize him.
"Ah, Major, or should I say Commander, I received your commission just today. Congratulations, with it comes, well let's say you're receiving your first Command."
Finishing his salute Ganis kept the smile from his face.
"Thank you Sir, a command this soon though, seems," he was cut off as the General lifted a talon at him, the look on his face worried Ganis more than a little.
"It seems, you have been reassigned to Varidel, you know of it I'm sure."
"I do, but that's a holding facility, one that hasn't been used in some time."
"Well, it's being used now. We have a prisoner of war being held there, you're being sent to oversee the prisoners care."
His face must have shown his shock.
"I realize that this isn't what you had expected on your first Command post, I guarantee you though the Hierarchy will be watching you, and if this goes well you'll get your own ship."
Nodding Ganis paused, choosing his words.
"Sir, if you can tell me, why such a stir over one prisoner?"
He watched as Victus's face went very still, he cleared his throat and nodded.
"I suppose you should know the whole story. The prisoner, if you can call her that, is a child. Before you look at me like that, listen. The child's mothers name was General Shepard. You may have heard of her, she was one of the Alliance that sat on the council, the one that tried to broker peace between the Humans and us."
"Right, the summit that ended in a bloody fight. Kind of put a pin in any chance of peaceful talks."
If Victus was annoyed at Ganis talking out of turn, he didn't show it.
"Yes, the very same; not all of us wanted things to end like that though," his eyes glazed over as he stared at the far wall. "I'm sorry, the point is, General Shepard came looking for me a few weeks ago, but before she could get to me she was killed. Her child was with her, she was, bringing the child to me."
Ganis's mandibles went slack as he stared at Victus, what he was saying sounded something like treason.
"You've been in contact with an Alliance General? With all due respect Sir, are you insane?"
He continued, ignoring the accusation in Ganis's voice.
"In the weeks that we met for the summit, General Shepard and I became close, friends even. I realized there isn't much difference between us. Though my thoughts on the matter have been brushed aside, I'm afraid that this war won't stop until it's much too late. The point is, General Shepard had nowhere else to turn, well she felt that I was her best chance, for the love of her daughter, she contacted me. Asked me if I could take them captive, to keep the child out of Alliance hands, she's a biotic, and she was to be taken from her mother, taken to develop her biotic abilities. I don't know the whole story, but Anne seemed so worried, I had no choice, I had to try to help her."
"Sir, you realize if anyone knew this, you could be tried for treason; spirits, and now I know."
"I know, but I trust you Ganis, you're different, the solution to this war isn't going to be on the battle field. I promised Anne that I wouldn't let the girl be taken by the Alliance."
"Sir, if the General was that worried about her own people, doing who knows what to her child; don't you think we should be worried?"
"I don't know, what I do know, is that I need you to go there, and figure out what we are going to do with the child, perhaps find somewhere, out of the way to place her, somewhere away from the fighting. Take care of her until I can figure something out ; the Alliance thinks they are both dead, while on leave, which is only partially true. The Turian Hierarchy thinks the child is just a consequence of war."
"So, we're lying to everyone? Fantastic, I'm so glad you thought of me." Ganis stifled a groan; he was risking his own neck, for what? A promise to some human, spirits how could so much change in an hour?
"Remember Commander, there is a ship waiting for your command after this."
He nodded, that's what he would focus on, after all of this, his life would go back to normal; he would have command of his ship.
Victus tried not to chuckle, he knew Ganis was different, he was one of the few Turians he knew, who didn't hesitate to speak his mind, it had held back his advancement by a year at least.
As he left the helm, Ganis couldn't help but think about what General Victus had said, about the humans not being that different from them. He hadn't ever thought of it that way, they were in a war that showed no signs of stopping, could they really ever be friends?
The prison if you could call it that was small, out of the way. A perfect place to hold someone you didn't want anyone to know about. As Ganis entered the building he could hear shouting from somewhere inside, he was instantly at full alert as he moved quickly down the hall towards what he assumed was the mess hall. He stopped just inside the door; the sight that greeted him was not what he had expected.
The room was a disaster, broken plates and glasses littered the room, he barely moved in time as a glass sailed past his head and smashed on the wall behind him. Two Turians stood with their backs to him, the little human girl stood on top of one of the tables, and she was grabbing and smashing anything she could get her biotics on.
"I said stop it human, it's time for you to go back to your room. Don't make me have to come over there and get you."
Glaring at the Turian in front of her she tried to leap off the side of the table. The Turian caught her by the arm and dragged her towards him.
"You'll learn some respect child." The Turian pulled back his hand as if he would hit her and Ganis stepped forward without a second thought, grabbed his hand and tossed it to the side.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?"
The look of shock on his face would have been comical, had Ganis not been so angry.
"Sir, we didn't expect you so soon." His hand was still clenched around the little girls arm and she squirmed trying to get away from him.
"I suggest you let go of the girl, and remove yourself from my sight, now, before I decide to remove you altogether."
The Turian looked shocked. "You can't be serious sir, over a human? You have no idea what she's like."
"There is never a good reason for someone of your size to hit a child, you could injure her severely."
Ganis stared down at the girl; she already had several marks on her pale skin. Her red fringe was limp about her face and seemed dirty, matted with what smelled like blood.
The blue skinned Turian that had a hold of her arm, released her and moved towards the door.
"I'll issue your reassignment, for now, get out of here, I expect you on the next shuttle."
The little girl had fallen to the floor when the Turian had released her. Her fringe was over her face as she leaned on her arm, she wasn't moving. Kneeling next to her Ganis lowered his voice and spoke slowly.
"You're Jane right?"
The little girls eyes lifted to his, he was shocked at the vivid green of them.
The other man stood at attention next to her, he motioned to him without his eyes leaving hers.
"If you would take my things to my quarters, I'm sure Jane here can show me her room."
The Turian didn't move at first, but finally nodded grabbing the bag Ganis had with him and moved out of the room with a salute.
Ganis searched her face, she stared right back at him, not one hint of fear. Only sadness, it filled her eyes, and as she watched him, that look pierced his heart.
"I'm sorry; he shouldn't have done that to you."
She actually shrugged at him, as she pulled herself to her feet.
"Will you show me your room?"
She nodded and pointed towards the other hall.
"Well, after you then."
When the door to where she was being kept slid open, Ganis frowned. It was little more than a closet, barely enough room for the little bed that occupied it. Shaking his head he looked down at the little girl.
"I guess we'll have to find you a different room."
She shrugged once again, and sat on the bed watching him.
"I'm Commander Ganis Vandrel. You can call me Ganis if you like. Can I call you Jane?"
She nodded, quirking her head to the side.
"Mom says I'm supposed to call people by their title, as they earned it. So you're Commander then."
He smiled, noting that her voice was very small, soft, just like her, and he couldn't help but wonder how she had handled the blows from that soldier. She was so, breakable looking.
"That's fine Jane."
They stood together in silence, those green eyes watching him.
"How old are you Jane?"
"I'm six and a half. How old are you?"
"I'm thirty-two, quite a bit older than you."
She nodded, like she was trying to decide how old that really was.
"Mom's old like you."
He smiled softly, and wondered if she knew her mother was dead. She wiped a hand across her nose and he could see the blood on the back of her hand.
"Hey, let's get you cleaned up."
She nodded and took his hand as he held it out for her. It shocked him that she would take his hand, trusting him so quickly after what had been done to her. Brave, unafraid, that was something he hadn't been expecting.
Their first week together was uneventful. Ganis tried to make her comfortable, finding her a better room, one with its own washroom. The first thing he realized was that she was bored, and he had no idea what to do with a child that was bored.
He was sitting alone in his quarters, waiting in vain for a message from the General. He had no idea what to do with Jane, and he kept hoping that perhaps the General knew where she would be sent. As he sat lost in thought there was a small tap at his door.
Jane stuck her little head through the door, before running in and hopping on the bed.
"Commander, when's mom coming back?"
Ganis spun to her, his mandibles tight against his face, spirits, what the hell was he supposed to say to that?
She watched his eyes closely, before sniffing once.
"Don't lie, like she did about dad, you can tell me she isn't coming back."
Ganis quirked a brow plate at her, she never ceased to shock him, first by not being afraid of them, now by announcing that he could tell her that her mother was dead.
"Alright then, no lies between us; your mom was killed, in the war. You know about the war?"
She shrugged. He was shocked that she didn't cry, nothing, just a calm acceptance. This child knew way too much about the harsh realities of life, for being so young.
"Yeah, I guess," she searched his face. "Do I live with you now?"
"For right now, until we can find somewhere else for you, I'm stationed here. This isn't where I actually live."
He watched her face screw up, while she thought about that.
"Where do you actually live?"
"Well, I grew up in a little colony called Randiv. But I've been in the military since I was fifteen, so I guess I live wherever they tell me to."
He almost chuckled as her face went serious, and she nodded.
"Yeah, that's how mom was," biting her lower lip she fidgeted on the bed.
"Commander, can't I just come with you when they tell you to be somewhere else?"
The question hit him hard, like he had been slapped.
"I don't think that would be," but he trailed off, as those bright green eyes stared at him with a silent plea. Trying to find something, anything to change the subject he glanced over at the door.
"Hey, Jane would you like to get outside?" She bobbed her head so hard he thought it might fall off.
"Alright then, grab your boots and let's go." She scurried out of his room, spirits; he'd dodged a bullet there. But what she had asked him, stayed with him and he couldn't block the memory of those big green eyes, pleading with him.
Another week and still no word from the General, Ganis lay awake in his room, staring at the ceiling. He wondered if they would ever find a place where Jane could actually live. What kind of life could she really have, if most Turians treated her as that soldier did? The brave little red-head, he didn't know what to do with her.
He was just about to drift off when screams sat him upright in his bunk. He was out and moving towards Jane's room before he even knew he was fully awake. Practically kicking the door open he moved into the room, combat ready. But there was Jane, alone on her bed staring up at him.
"Jane? What's going on, are you okay?"
She shook her head.
"Did you have a bad dream?"
She nodded, her lower lip poking out at him.
"Well, as you can see, everything is fine. I'll be back right down the hall, you know where I am."
She nodded, but didn't lie down as he moved out of her room and towards his own.
Just as he had settled down on his bed his door opened.
"Can I stay here, with you?"
He sighed, but found himself nodding at her.
Before he could move, she was bouncing towards him and had jumped on the bed next to him, curling against his side. She felt so tiny and soft, and a very warm protective feeling grew in his chest as he ran his talons through her fringe that she called hair. Spirits, this little human was burrowing directly into his heart.
"Commander, I think I've found a solution to our problem, I think I've found a holding facility for Jane, it's out-of-the-way, it's an orphanage for other children from this war, and she will have to be kept separated of course, for her own good. But at least it's somewhere for her to be, where she won't be completely alone."
Leaning on his hand, Ganis found himself frowning.
"Is there something wrong Commander? I thought you would be thrilled, as soon as you drop her off you'll be commanding your own ship."
Shaking his head Ganis sat forward, staring at the holo of General Victus.
"Well, Sir, I've been thinking. I want to ask permission to stay with Jane. Perhaps even take care of her, it would be better for me to do it, rather than have her be in an orphanage." Ganis stopped, what the hell was he asking?
"I only ask one thing General, that she be treated just as any other child would be, if I adopt her, I want her treated like a Turian, I want her to have the same opportunities as everyone else. That means military school and a chance to earn her way through military ranks."
Victus stared at him in silent shock, if his eyes could have burned through the screen, they would have.
"I don't think you understand what you're asking Commander. No one would ever allow a human into the military, she would never be accepted."
"General, with my record and your word I think they would give her a chance, just give me the chance to let her try. If it's true that she can't go back to the Alliance, then let her have a shot at a normal life with us, such as it is."
Victus nodded, a strange look flashing across his face.
"Alright, if this is really what you want Commander, I will allow the adoption of Jane by yourself. You know how hard it's going to be though right? No matter how you prepare her, she may never be accepted, and even if she is, she'll be in the military to fight against her own kind. I want you to think about that."
"I know Sir, but what kind of choice is it for a child to either be sent back to people who want to use her for her body, do spirits know what to her, or be sent to an orphanage where she'll just be locked in a room. We might as well have killed her."
"You've made your point Commander, I said I will allow it, I was just issuing a warning."
"I'm aware," he nodded.
As Victus turned away from the console he smiled, Ganis was just who he had hoped he was.
"Jane, I need you to pack your things."
She turned eyes to him that he could only describe, as angry.
"You're sending me away aren't you?" She crossed her arms over her chest, as he kneeled next to her.
"In a way yes, you and I are going home, we're going to where I grew up, that I was telling you about. I'm going to take care of you, is that okay?"
She sprang up from where she was sitting and launched herself at his chest; he caught her and held her close.
How could something so little, make him feel like this? He had never wanted a family, or anything even remotely to do with one and now all he could think about, was raising this child to have every chance that the galaxy seemed hell-bent to deny her. Well he was going to give her that chance, even if it killed him.