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Mass Effect/AEC:Chapter 17 (c.2)-Cerberus


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Tweet of the Day: Weekend Writing Warriors 12/28/14

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Executive Office Suite, Avernus Station, Orbiting Sagittarius A,  Galactic Core, November 21, 2196

I texted a warning to the others.

“Aren’t we an arrogant little ghost,” I said.

“You’re confusing arrogance with confidence, commander,” said the hologram.

“Really? Can I call you Cerberus, because you’re no Jack Harper,” I said.

“That man is dead,” growled Cerberus.

Guess I touched a virtual nerve.

“So is the Illusive Man. The Alliance recovered the body, dissected it and then shot it straight into the Sun. You are nothing but a shadow,” I said.

Cerberus cocked his head to right and took a long drag from a virtual cigarette, “I’m surprised Shepard is not here.”

“I’m sorry but the admiral is too busy to deal with you. I will have to do,” I said.

“I’m wonder why he keeps you around considering how you failed to protect Anderson,” said Cerberus with a crooked smile.

I remembered how Cerberus lured us into a trap, how Cerberus troopers led the Anderson away while several resistance leaders, men and women we trusted, had their guns trained on us. Coats and I escaped in the confusion brought by a sudden reaper attack. Yes, I remembered.

“And you murdered him, sorry, the Illusive Man murdered him. In fact, that is the only thing Cerberus has been good at. You murdered politicians, condemned thousands to a slow death by eezo exposure, killed admiral Kohaku, his men and the Alliance unit the same way you massacred a marine company in Akuze,” I said

Miranda joined in, “And that is not counting torturing children in Pragia and luring hundreds of thousands to their deaths in Sanctuary.”

“And yet you continue your father’s work  on indoctrination, Miranda,” said Cerberus

What?

I turned around to face Miranda.

“She likes to keep secrets, commander,” said Cerberus.

A blue aura engulfed Miranda,”I am not my father! This time we are doing it right.”

Aria called over the comm,”Rearguard under fire from Cerberus troops.”

There was not the time to indulge in recriminations, “You know for a pro-human organization you done far more harm to humanity than good. I mean when Saren attacked human colonies, instead of trying to stop him you went all ‘Saren had a little three-headed pup, its fur as white as snow, and everywhere that Saren went, the pup was sure to go.’ Saren used husks, you unleashed husk on a colonial survey team. Saren re-discovered the rachni, you try to turn them into an army. And you know what, I am not surprised. Whatever happened in Palaven between Desolas, Saren and Harper-”

Cerberus growled, “Jack Harper is dead.”

“Like I was saying, whatever happened on Palaven indoctrinated the three of you. Saren won the jackpot with Sovereign, but you, I mean Harper, shed his humanity and turned into the Illusive Man. I just wonder if that all was before or after Ben and Eva died,” I said.

“You have no idea what I have sacrificed for humanity,” said Cerberus with a wave of his arm. The hologram paced within the confines of the projection field like a lion in a cage.

“You? You are a ghost. The Illusive Man sacrificed everyone but himself. And for what? He and you have done nothing more than the Reapers bidding from day one. Do you think for a moment that trying to control the Reapers would have worked? That the Alliance and the other races would have allowed the Illusive Man to wield the most destructive force in the galaxy? They would have attacked and a man without scruples, without a moral horizon would have exterminated them. Doing exactly what the Reapers intended to do in the first place. Then what? Wait another fifty thousand years for a new crop of civilizations to rise? That sounds awful lot like what the Reapers have been doing for the last billion years or so. That is the very definition of insanity,” I said.

“What you think is irrelevant, commander. In a few minutes the station will be secured and the threat eliminated,” said Cerberus.

Utah called over the comm,”Higher AI functions isolated and quarantined.”

“Really? Utah, send the signal,” I said.

A flash appeared on the center screen. The Kursk came through the relay followed by five geth cruisers. Another screen showed the deployment of the station’s weapons array. The gun batteries opened fire on the Hades class cruisers.

“Oops,” I said.

A bright stream of molten metal hit one of the cruisers from underneath. The force of the impact broke the back of the ship.

“Mapping an existing neural network into a virtual matrix is not the same as building an AI from the ground up. Nor is it the most efficient. It takes quite a bit of computing power to emulate an existing personality and if done successfully it comes with all the flaws of the original.  Yours is the Illusive Man’s titanic ego. And now my friend Utah is in control of this station and his friends are coming in to settle old scores,” I said.

Two more Cerberus cruisers exploded.

Cerberus nose flared, “This is no victory. You can not kill an idea,”

“You’re right. But ideas can be ignored, ridiculed, and above all else, forgotten.” The holographic emitter shut down and the screens went dark, “Goodbye, Cerberus.”

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