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Mass Effect/AEC Chapter 4 (c.2): Transit


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Tweet of the Day: The Dawn Before the Dark

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Docking Bay A-12, The Presidium, The Citadel, Widow, Serpent Nebula, October 2, 2196

<DECONTAMINATION COMPLETE>, chimed the ship’s VI.

The crew of the SSV Kursk waited in attention to welcome the ViP. The airlock opened and in stepped in a little asari.

“Permission to come aboard, sir,” she squeaked standing in parade ground attention or as close as a little girl can manage without giggling.

I played along, “Permission granted, Miss?”

Her eyes shone with pride, “Hannah Miranda Shepard T’Soni, sir!”

“Welcome aboard Miss Shepard,” I said.

She glanced left and bolted for the bridge, “Are you the helmsman?” she asked Ace but before she could answer, Ms. Shepard rattled on, “Is the ship your girlfriend? Is this ship like the Normandy? Because Uncle Joker and Aunt EDI are boyfriend and girlfriend and that means that he is dating the ship and a robot. I don’t see a robot, is the ship’s robot off duty? I like your  ponytail, it’s pretty. I’m asari, so I don’t have hair but yours is kind of like Aunty Miranda’s, black and shiny but she doesn’t do ponytails, at least I never seen her with one and….”

“Hannah?” came a voice from the airlock.

She walked back to her father’s side, her freckled cheeks blushed a deep purple, “But Daaad!”

“Permission to come aboard, Commander,” said Admiral Shepard one arm around his daughter’s shoulder.

“Permission granted Admiral,” I said.

“At ease Commander,” he shook hands with me and the rest of the Kursk command crew. “You already met my daughter, Hannah and this is my aide, Lieutenant Commander James Vega.”

A burly marine in full N7 armor walked in, “So, you’re the jefe around here.”

Fellow N7 or not I didn’t care for his attitude, “Soy el jefe y capitán de navió, Señor Vega.”

“Understood, sir,” said Vega with a shit eating grin.

“Active watch, back to your stations. Navigator Johnson stand by for departure. Ensign Francis, take the Admiral’s baggage to the captain’s quarters,” I ordered.

“Aye, aye sir,” said Randall while the ensign hurried of with the Admiral’s luggage.

“Right this way, Admiral,” I pointed to the CIC. We came up to the galactic map, “If you would do honors, sir?”

The Admiral hesitated. He looked around the CIC, the down to his daughter and climbed up the step to the map. He selected the Tikkun system, in the Perseus Veil.

Navigator Johnson voice come over the intercom, “Course set in, sir. ETA to Rannoch, nineteen hours and seventeen minutes.”

“Helmsman, takes us out dock and set a course for the mass relay,” I said.

“Aye, aye, sir,” said Ace over the intercom.

We proceeded to tour the ship, from the new command center to the galley. Hannah and Vega commented on the similarities with the Normandy. After awhile Vega excuse himself and left for the crew’s quarters. The tour ended on the Port Observation Deck.

I went straight for the bar, “Would you like a drink, sir?”

The Admiral stood in front of the window. He stared at the distant stars, “Sure.”

I poured two drinks, “Sir, the last time I checked, Admiral’s aides didn’t wear full combat armor.”

“Vega is more of a bodyguard, commander,” said the Admiral, hands clasped behind his back.

“You need a bodyguard, sir?”

He glanced at Hannah, who sat the couch playing a game on her omni-tool, “Yes.”

“I see,” I handed him a glass. The scotch was less than smooth going down.

Wet navy, cheap scotch.

“Sir, permission to speak freely?” I asked.

“I keep an open door policy, commander,” said the Admiral.

“Okay…sir, why did I get punted to this ship warming cruise?” I asked. It came out far more bitter than I intended but there it was.

“Politics, commander,” he said.

“Right, but I didn’t do anything wrong? The Alliance investigation cleared me of any suspicion. Why is it that T-R Security got disbanded for doing exactly what is was meant to do?”

“What is the one thing that has so far not come up in any news report about the Battle of Korulus?”

Alliance and Citadel sources kept the exact details of the battle from the public, most of the reporting concentrated on T-R Security involvement. Not even a hint of the most important part of the battle, the one reason I sent hundreds of men and women to their deaths in a desperate attempt to stop a new genocide.

“The blood plague,” I said.

“Exactly. Imagine what would happen if news of the plague came out. The backlash would destroy any support for the Batarian Assembly. We worked too hard, for too long to create such a group, a group friendly to the Citadel and willing to work with us in stabilizing the Terminus systems,” said the Admiral.

It made sense. A group as the Assembly did not sprang up overnight. The outrage from the Alliance public  would force the Parliament to withdraw all support for the Assembly and without the support the whole thing would collapse.

“Then why dissolve the company, sir. We have been training militias for the last decade and we already had contacts with the abolitionist,” I said.

“Torfan,” he replied in an cold, even tone.

Fuck!

“That’s not…that is irrelevant, sir.”

“I wasn’t there but-”

The words slipped through my lips before my brain could stop them, “Damn right you weren’t.”

He turned to me, “Excuse me?”

“I apologize, sir. It’s…a sensitive subject.”

“Among humans and batarians alike, commander. You are a public figure. The former CEO of one of the most important private military contractor in the Terminus Systems.  Most of your record with Alliance is public. They are those in the Assembly who would nothing more to take over or form their own groups. Torfan would be all the excuse they needed to do it.” He downed his drink, “Earth still needs the resources from the Traverse to survive. That means secure supply lines through the establishment of  stable governments in the Terminus systems. Your mission was a part of the puzzle that included the batarians, quarians and the geth. It all comes down to politics, commander,” he said.

It all made sense. The Quarians had the largest merchant fleet in the galaxy that kept millions of Turians supplied with food. Humanity needed the resources from the outer colonies and a friendly batarian government would stamp down on the attacks along Traverse.

“Commander, the truth is that the Reapers are still out there. They may strike tomorrow or sometime in the next century. And when they do, they won’t come to harvest us, they will come to annihilate us.” Hannah had fallen asleep on the couch. The Admiral sat beside her. He stroke her cheek with back of his hand.

“One more question, sir,” I looked at the girl, “Miranda?”

“She is a close friend of the family and she did mention you once or twice.  I would not be here without her. She brought me back with Illusive Man’s resource, but she did what no one else thought possible. If my daughter is one tenth of the woman my mother, Liara, or Miranda are, she will be a guiding light of our civilizations for the next thousand years. Even if she isn’t, she deserves a chance to grow up and find her our destiny.” Shepard looked me straight the eye, “I won’t long enough to see it, but that is my mission now. Do you understand commander?”

“Yes, sir,” I said.

He scooped his daughter up, “Time for some shut eye. Call me when we reach Rannoch.”

“Yes, sir.”

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