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Mass Effect/AEC Chapter 2 (c.2): Absence


Tweet of the Day: Vampiric Pirates

———

Boquerón, Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, Caribbean League, Earth, Sol System, Local Group, September 5, 2196

The moment the front door swung open a little blue ball of asari happiness raced down the hallway, “Tio, bendición!”

I kissed my little cousin Naera on the cheek, “Dios te bendiga, chiquita. Where is your dad?”

She pulled on my duffel bag, “He is getting some pizza for dinner.” A blue aura enveloped the bag. The bag sailed over her shoulder and into the living room with a loud boom.  Her cheeks turned a deep violet, “Sorry!”

We peeked into the living room. Nothing was out of place, except for a black cat  that stared down at the duffel bag  with an arched back from a top the bookcase.

“Misha, get down from there,” said Naera, but Misha hissed at Naera and stayed put, yellow eyes watchful for any more unidentified biotic objects.

The door bell rang.

Naera ran past me, “I’ll get it!” She spoke on the intercom then turned around, “Tio, I think its for you.”

I opened the door and there stood one Miranda Lawson in a one piece black bikini wrapped in a yellow saree and sandals, “May I come in?” she asked with a radiant smile.

I was paralyzed with shock, “What are doing here, Miri?” I blurted out.

“If you have to ask?” she replied.

Naera squeaked, “Is she your girlfriend, tio?”

Mirianda put a hand on her hip, “Am I?”

The playful tone of her voice, the way she always challenged me, woke me from my stupor, “Well, if you gotta ask?” I said.

She turned to Naera, “And what is you name?”

“Naera. Naera Alvieri,” she said with a twinkle in her teal eyes.  She turned her cheek up to Miranda.

I tapped mine and mouthed that Naera wanted a kiss. Miranda obliged with a gentle peck.

“Chiqui, call your dad and tell him we are going to need another pizza, extra large with cheese and lots of veggies. And after that go wash up, okay?” I said.

“Do I have to Tio?” asked Naera with puppy dog eyes.

“Yes,” I said while I took Miranda’s carry on.

Naera bolted upstairs.

“As much as I’m happy to see you, and I am, my question still stands,” I said.

Miranda rounded on me, “I’m here, because someone promised my sister that they would tell me about a little incident they had on Milgrom. Not to mention I had hear about your company folding from the extranet.”

I washed my hands on the kitchen sink, “I meant to tell you, but,” a long list of excuses ran though my mind, but I knew none would stand up to Miranda analytical stare. The truth would have to do, “I didn’t want to worry you, Miri.”

“Oh, so the absolute lack of information about your whereabouts or well being was supposed to put my mind at ease?” she asked. Her jaw clenched with anger.

“As always you are absolutely right, Miranda. But all that is over now. I’m on a leave of absence until the Alliance figures out what to do with me,” I said.

“You’ll be fine. You did nothing wrong, except keep me in the dark,” she said

“Most of it was need to know anyway. You know how it goes. Besides, I did tell you I was alright,” I said.

“Weeks after you were out of the hospital. You want to know why am I here, Theo? I’m here because I want straight answers, and I’m going to get them.”

“About what?”

“About us?”

The sound of the front door opening cut me off. My cousin Ricky carried three large pizzas. Introductions were made, slices were eaten, and much Tupari was drunk. In between bites Naera regaled us with stories of school friends. She was in the middle of telling a particular hilarious take on her Romance Language teacher when her father interrupted her.

“It’s eight clock and you, young lady, have school tomorrow,” he said with the stern voice.

“But Papi!,” she wailed.

“Go, now,” said Ricky. Naera said goodnight with quick succession of kisses and ran upstairs.”I’ll make sure she not playing games on her omni-tool. Good night folks,” he said.

“Care for something a bit stronger than Tupari, Ms. Lawson?” I asked.

“Sure.”

I searched in the cabinet under the sink, “We have rum and rum and some more rum, oh and some soda too.” I mixed a pair of Cuba Libres and we headed out to the balcony, Misha the cat in tow. The bay glowed with bioluminescent algae. Most of the old town lay underwater, victim of the twenty first century climate change. Miranda leaned on the balcony rail. My gaze traveled up the curves of her body. “Do you know what happened in Imri?”

“I heard rumors about batarian extremist,” she said.

“The rumors were true. The same bastards that tried to kill me, that killed some good people in Milgrom,” the police identified Pratchett Peters remains from DNA found on the blood splatter on the walls, “tried  to kill millions with some kind of blood plague,” I said.

She turned around, paler than usual,”Blood plague?”

“You know about it?”

“Yeah, Jacob and I stopped an batarian assassination attempt on the Council using the same weapon. Back when I was with Cerberus,” she said.

“Well, the perfected a way to deliver it in large quantities. Enough to wipe out entire colonies. We stopped them at the mass relay, but it costs us two cruisers and hundreds of lives. And as a reward, the Council disbanded TRS.”

“It couldn’t last forever Theo,” she said.

“Of course not, but my people deserve better.It’s not like the Council didn’t know about it. Their just covering their asses. Goddamned politicians,” I drained my glass, “But that’s not why you came here for, is it?”

“No.”

“I’ve been thinking about us, Miri. Really thinking about us,” I said. Memories of Helena came to mind.

My love Helena waving goodbye,
Happy face, sad smile,
Earth drowns in tears of joy and cries of pain,

Always the same…

“Well I don’t want to live in the past anymore. I’m trying to figure out how to make this work. I’m an Alliance Marine. It’s who I am. But it’s not all I am. Not anymore. I want,” I tugged at her hand, “I want to be worthy of you.”

She pulled in close. When she spoke the sweet scent of her hair took my breath away, “It will take more than words to do that, Mr. Thompson-Ramos.” There it was again, the challenge, the test. Miranda was the kind of woman that demanded the best from you. You either put up or shut up. My hands slid around the small of her back. Our lips brushed together. In that second there was nothing but us, no thoughts, no nightmares, no worries, only us.

Come what may, there was us.

———

The Beam sweeps forward,
The Infernal gears grind,
The City cries out,
The Fire engulfs us all,

It is always, always, always the same….

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