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Mass Effect/AEC:Chapter 18 (c.2)- Christmas


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Tweet of the Day: Gaming Communities (complete rambles)

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Conference Room #3, Turian Hierarchy Embassy, Citadel, Widow, Serpent Nebula, December 24, 2196

“To recap, current Cerberus forces are deployed in eight colonies across three sectors along the Terminus/Verge border. This operation will require a simultaneous strike at all of them in order to ensure their destruction. Operational security shall be our highest priority until we launch Hammerfall. Any questions?” I asked.

None among the select group of salarian, turian, and human officers raised any questions. I stepped aside for admiral Shepard.

“Thank you commander. And thank you all for coming. We launch the operation at the end of the month, dismissed,” said Shepard.

I approached the admiral, “Admiral, we all due respect, we should have launched this operation sooner.”

“I agree, commander. But the turians were not going to do a joint operation with the Alliance unless they had corroborating intel, which meant convincing the salarians to re-task their STG regiments in the Terminus, which they didn’t do until the geth ambassador sat outside the salarian councilor’s office for three day straight without moving a servo. The sight of a high ranking geth just sitting there attracted a lot attention from the press which made the councilor nervous enough to agreed to see him,” said Shepard.

“I thought that the word of the first human Specter would be enough,” I said.

“If only.”

“Sir, about Horizon,” I said.

“I read your report on what the Cerberus AI said. It was need to know, commander,” said Shepard.

“Understood sir,” I said.

“Anything else commander?” he asked.

“Nothing else, sir.”

I headed back to the Kursk to change out of my uniform. Vega had invited the crew to Christmas party at his place. I picked up a bottle of rum along the way to Vega’s place on the Presidium. A wave of Christmas carols assaulted me the moment the door opened.

“Merry Christmas, sir!” yelled Flight Lieutenant Andrea “Ace” Auld at top of her lungs.

Navigator Johnson mustache bristled at Ace’s display of holiday enthusiasm.

Vega waved from the kitchen,” Mi casa es su casa, jefe!”

“Nice place you got here Vega,” I said.

“Well before you ask, sir, it was Miranda’s wedding gift,” said Vega.

“I didn’t,” I said.

“You,” said a angry voice behind me. I turned to see Jack, Vega’s wife. She poked my chest with her index finger hard enough to leave a bruise, “I don’t know what you did, but the princess has been moping since she got here. Fix it.”

Vega laughed out loud, “You better do what she says, jefe.”

I rubbed my chest, “Yes ma’am.”

Oriana gave me the evil eye as I walked past.

Miranda leaned on the balcony railing. Aircars whipped past. I gazed upon her figure clad in a knee length blue dress. I wanted nothing more than to look at her. A moment to admire her from afar.

Time to face the music.

I walked tentatively to the balcony, “Miranda?”

“Commander,” she replied with her back to me.

Oh boy.

“I talked to Shepard about Horizon,” I said. She did not reply. “He said it was ‘need to know,’ and he was right. It makes perfect sense to study indoctrination, to find a way to stop it, but….”

“My fa-,” she turned, a few drops of white wine spilled from the flute glass in her hand, “Henry Lawson was right. Indoctrination is the key to understanding the Reapers, it is the key to destroying them. The Illusive Man was right, about a lot things, or it seemed like he was right. But what he did, what I did. No, never again. I can’t believe you think I’m capable of-”

I grabbed her free hand, “I know exactly what you are capable of Miranda. You brought Shepard back to life, you helped him defeat the Collectors, you stood by me as we went through the Omega Four relay. But we are talking about indoctrination here.”

She pulled away, “I know exactly what we are talking about. I saw what happened to an entire Cerberus science team inside a dead Reaper. The Illusive Man didn’t care as long as he got results. I’m not like that.”

“And I believe you, more to the point I believe in you, in us. A coward like me has no place to judge a brave soul like yours.”

“You’re not a coward. A stubborn bastard maybe, but no coward.”

“If only. I’m not one to run away from a fight, but when it comes to dealing with…doubts, well it’s easier to bury myself in work instead of talking about it.”

“You’re not the only one who has…trust issues, but I trust you.”

“Right,” I took a deep breath, “Remember when we talked about redemption and you told me you where not going to live in the past? I’ve been thinking about that. I’ve been trapped in past for too long. It’s time I moved on. It’s time to focus the future, focus on us.”

“Us?”

“Yes, us, you and me. I want you in my life Miranda. I want to build a future with you in it. Besides we’re not done with Cerberus yet.”

She ran her hand through her long, silky hair, “And then what?”

“Then we build that future I talked about. If you want to, of course.”

She sighed, “Since we are clearing the air, there is something else I need to tell you. Not a secret, exactly, just something that I’ve been working on for a long time.”

“What is it?”

She looked at Oriana. Her sister sat on Pasha’s lap and stroked his long blue hair.

“I got news from my doctors. They say that there is a procedure to restore my fertility, a risky procedure.”

“I didn’t know you were….”

“I am infertile. Another of Henry’s tricks to control me, even from the grave. But if the procedure is successful then….”

“I’ll support any decision you make Miranda. I’ll be worried sick, of course, but I’ll support it.”

Tears slid down her cheeks, “Thank you, but the thing is, I thought I wanted to be a mother for myself, to have the kind of family I never had. But now, I want that family with you.”

I took the glass from her hand, “A family sounds nice. It won’t be easy, but nothing worth doing ever is.”

“But not today, today we celebrate,” she said with a twinkle in eye. She pulled me back inside the apartment.

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