Nothing else was holding him back minus a favour to Admiral Kohoku to find some of his lost troops. It was more then that, seems the Admiral was in something deep. Shepard also sorted out some other issues while stopping through the Citadel.
Shepard was given the chance to complete a final lethal program at Pinnacle Station but now ready and aware of the larger picture of issues in the galaxy Shepard picked one of the two leads.
A Human colony had gone silent and it was being established in a vacant Prothean city.
Right off the bat Shepard took time to push back the Geth attackers and give the folks at Zhu's Hope a reprieve. The colony was in trouble - no power, no water, and no food. On top of this the Geth had set up a forward operating base (aka FOB) in the lower tunnels below Zhu's Hope.
While Shepard was here he was going to take the time and give the people of Zhu's Hope more help then just killing Geth. He hunted down some food, found power cells, and put the water running. While shutting down the Geth FOB he also ran into a deranged colonist who warned Shepard of something ambiguous.
This ambiguity continued when Shepard reported in on the issues he had solved. Folks were acting oddly and something else just didn't feel right. People were holding back info, people in trouble tend to not hide anything when at the brink.
With Zhu's Hope established and secure. Shepard moved down into the skyway, clearing out Geth forces before finding a refugee camp of ExoGeni workers. The company Exo-Geni was the colony sponsor. After getting a brief from the less then helpful company personnel, Shepard moved toward the company headquarters where the Geth had set up shop.
Clearing through the Geth base and saving a young employee led to two things. First it revealed info on a alien called the Thorian who could control minds and was set up under the coloney of Zhu's Hope. ExoGeni was recording and experimenting using the colony as test subjects.
Secondly Shepard got to see inside the Geth's world. They were caught by surprise in some state of prayer or meditation. There was also some sort of shrine or gathering place. This information reminded Shepard on how little he still knew of his enemy.
When he returned to the refugee camp things had gotten deadly. ExoGeni had decided to wipe out the colony to avoid repercussions for their actions. The lead official even pulled a gun on Shepard that ended with Shepard putting him down. A plan was hatched - knock out the colonists and break into the protected area to stop the Thorian and find out why Saren wanted the Thorian. Gas grenades were handed out to the team and the moved towards the colony.
When Garus and Liara were almost dead near the end of the assault, Garus shot Macha. Shepard was out of gas grenades and was knocking out the colonist physically. Shepard was on the other side of the pitch knocking out the Salarain trader Inoste Ledra when he turned to see her die.
Once more someone suffered because Shepard wasn't good enough.
When it came down to the Thorian finally it was a slaughter. Shepard spent most of the right rushing ahead of the team getting in close and getting the most out of his shotgun. The team was playing pick up the pieces. The whole fight was littered with a Asari clone who was a powerful biotic. Not once was she able to get any of her abilities off because she was always the first to get shot in Shepard's assaults.
Eventually the team dropped the Thorian and met up with a follower of Liara's mother, Matriarch Benezia, named Shiala. She also had access to the cypher, the knowledge that would be able to understand the visions dumped in Shepard's head from the beacon on Eden Prime.
Shiala also gave Shepard two bits of information. Benezia was a follower but had set up safe guards to avoid Saren's influence. The ship spotted at Eden Prime was Sovereign, Saren's ship and source of his abnormal influence.
Shepard seeing much of himself in Shiala, let her live once he understood her need to make amends. He left Zhu's Hope with a future.
One thing sat in the back of Shepard's mind. ExoGeni was sharing their results with Cerberus, the rogue Systems Alliance Think Tank that Admiral Kohoku was hunting after they killed his troops. Maybe it was also time to investigate more on who Cerberus is and what they are up to.
This was the first hard choice for Shepard. Letting Shiala live is a big choice and it was made by the character that Shepard has become. Trying to save the sixteen colonists was an easy choice for this Shepard but in past games it was more of a debate.
Shepard is growing still and I like it.