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Captain’s Cabin, SSV Kursk SR-3, En route to Noveria, October 19, 2196
I leaned back on the leather backed chair, steaming cup of Yauco’s finest roast in hand. The strong, woody smell filled my nostrils as I brought the cup to my lips. I read from a datapad between tentative sips .
“Operation Bookmark, Operation Tabs, Operation Spreadsheet, Operation Broadsword, okay that last one makes sense, but who came up with this stuff?” I asked Miranda.
She sat on the edge of counter, cup in hand, “We extracted a lot of valuable people from under Cerberus nose.”
“And then the Alliance bombed Noveria’s labs from orbit. So finding one lab among the hundreds of ruins picked clean by scavengers over the last ten years will be a bit difficult, don’t you think?” I asked her.
She leaned down and pressed on the datapad screen, “The intel is good, Theo. Cerberus is back on Noveria. They rebuilt the Peak 21 labs and are now working on something big. Whatever it is, we have to stop it. With luck it will lead us to other Cerberus sites.”
I took a deep breath, “I know but….”I got up and put my hands on her hips, “listen, I got to be honest. I know you are the best person for this. You are one hell of a fighter, smarter than all of the crew of the ship put together, minus me, Utah and Pasha, of course.” She giggled, “But I’m also worry about… well I know you will act professionally–”
She pushed my hands away from her hips, “I have to do this Theo.” She turned her back to me, “This is too important for me to sit on the sidelines. They nearly killed you. They killed so many, and I….” Her shoulders shook.
“I know this is personal for you and that’s what worries me,” I said.
“What about Anderson?” she uttered in low cold voice.
“That was my mistake. And I don’t want to lose you to another one.”
“I’m not Helena, Theo. I can take care of myself. Besides you couldn’t have save her even if you tried,” she said in the same monotone.
The bitter tasted of bile rose from my stomach. Ancient, gut wrenching anger swelled within me,”No I couldn’t save her, or for that matter the three billion that died one Earth. I just watch them burn or worse, turn insane at the hands of the Reapers.”
She turned around, her eyes brimmed with tears, “I know,” her lips quivered, “I know dammit! If Cerberus is back that means, that means everything I did, right or wrong was for nothing. I can’t have that Theo, I just can’t let that happen and neither can you.”
I took her hand and pulled her close, “I’m sorry. If it was anyone else I would have kept my mouth shut, but you deserve better. You deserve the truth. Because I care.”
“I know.” She looked up,”But do you trust me?”
She turned the Citadel upside down and inside out to find that shot me. She brought back Shepard from the dead then helped him hunt down the Collectors. She took on an entire Cerberus facility by herself while under attack by Reapers just to rescue her sister. What do you say to that? She made mistakes. God knows I made more than a few. The truth was all that mattered.
I pressed my lips to the corner of hers and said, “With my life.”
“Then lets get this done, okay?” she said.
“I gotta to prep for the mission, commander. See you on the shuttle bay,” she said as she pulled away.
“Understood, Miss Lawson.”