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Saga Thy Rod and Staff [Mass Effect 2/SW Crossover] (Updated 2/10)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Harpalyce, Jul 26, 2011.

  1. Harpalyce

    Harpalyce Jedi Knight star 3

    Jun 19, 2010
    This is a sequel to "Yea, Though I Walk".

    If you're just joining us... you will probably be confused as Luke is. (...sorry.)

    Actually, let's attempt a serious summary:
    The Collectors attacked during the Battle of Endor, targeting the Death Star. Luke was captured by the Collectors while Vader joined in pursuit. Vader was then captured by Cerberus and outfitted with some Cerberus technology to make him more independent from the suit. Begrudgingly, Vader joined Shepard in her fight against the Collectors. During the final fight with the human Reaper, Vader leaped in pursuit of the Reaper, falling to his death. He was the only casualty on the suicide mission. Luke was recovered from the Collectors, and has been recovering in the Normandy's medbay; it appears that midichlorians provide protection against indoctrination.


    First chapter to this is coming up momentarily :)
  2. Harpalyce

    Harpalyce Jedi Knight star 3

    Jun 19, 2010
    "Woah... woah. It's okay, kid. It's all right."

    The young man groaned, shaking his head a little. Shepard gently put a hand on her shoulder, pushing him back onto the pillows. "Relax, kid. You're among friends. We're not going to hurt you. And you've been through some rough stuff lately."

    Drowsily, he lifted a hand to his head, rubbing at his eyes before taking a deep breath and letting it out through his nose. He gulped solidly, blinking rapidly against the light.

    "Let's start out simple. Take your time." The young man tried to sit up again, and Shepard kept her hand on his shoulder. "My name's Delia Shepard. And yours?"

    He gave another deep breath, still struggling against the effect of the sedatives Chakwas had given him. "Luke Skywalker."

    "Good to meet you, Luke." He struggled to sit up, and this time Shepard helped him up as he rubbed at his face, shaking off the sleepiness. "Can I get you something? A blanket, a pillow, something like that..."

    "...Something to drink?" He slurred lightly.

    "Sure! Sure." She hopped off of her cot, limping over to Chakwas' desk in the medbay. "I don't think there's much of the Serrice Ice brandy left, but I know where some whiskey is... vodka... this thing distilled by Vorcha in some distant planet -"

    "...Water?" His tone was gentle and polite.

    Shepard had been bracing herself for snappishness or at least sarcasm, given his father's temperament. Instead the young man was downright reasonable. "Yeah! ...Yeah, sure." She still picked up one of the nice glasses before filling it with cold water from the tap. "Listen, I should get this out of the way first-off. I served with your father for a short time, and I have some bad news -"

    "It's fine. I heard you earlier," he said softly, taking the glass of water with a smile. He still looked rather dizzy, and she didn't blame him. "Bits and pieces, anyway."

    She peered at him critically. "Pardon my asking, but you don't seem too torn up about it. ...I'm guessing you two weren't, uh, close."

    Luke shook his head no even as he drank deeply from the water, giving a sigh of relief. "Not especially, no." He ran a hand through his hair, wincing when he hit his neck.

    "Easy there. The Collectors - the ones that captured you - put a few implants in. We've removed them for you. If you need any pain medication, let me know, I'll call the Doctor. You're probably going to feel groggy for a little while. We didn't expect you to be up for another few hours." She smiled broadly at him. "You always an overachiever?"

    This made him give a small laugh; Shepard reached out for his empty glass to refill it. "Thank you," he murmured, taking the glass and taking another deep gulp of water.

    Shepard shook her head and gave a small laugh. "Are you always this calm, Skywalker?"

    "I've been through worse," he answered downright cheerfully (though he still slurred ever-so-slightly, and Shepard was about to blame the calm solely on whatever medication he had been given).

    "You've been through worse than waking up not knowing where you are, or who you're with, or what's happening, after having surgery, after you've been tortured for a couple of weeks, and after your dad's dead?"

    He blinked blearily at her a few moments before giving a frown. No, Shepard corrected herself, not quite a frown, not when she was comparing it to Vader's glowering. More like a pout.

    "...When you say it like that..."

    "Look, I'm not trying to depress you, I promise," Shepard soothed. "I was just planning to call the ship's counselor down here if your answer had been yes. A person can only go through so much hell before they crack."

    There was a warmth in his blue eyes as he gave another smile. "I understand. But I'm fine - thank you."

    "Are you sure? It's going to be a couple of hours before the crew is up, including the doctor. I can call Chakwas earlier if you need anything..."

    "No, I'm all right." He was still groggy, wiping at his eyes again. "Although..."

    "Kid, you have been through hell, and I am commander of this ship. Your father and I may not have seen eye to eye, but you're on my Normandy, and that means you're my responsibility. Anything you need, I'll get." Shepard paused a moment. "Well, I mean, within reason. But I can get quite a lot. It might take me a little bit to get, like, a puppy or a prostitute if you need something to cuddle, but..."

    "Some food?" He gave a somewhat nervous yet endearing smile.

    Shepard blinked rapidly at him for a few moments before smiling broadly. "Yeah, Skywalker. I can absolutely do that. Leftover chicken alfredo okay? And you know what, I'm going to go ahead and pour you a double..."


    When Chakwas saw the lights on in the medbay, she picked up the pace, nervously gritting her teeth. They were supposed to have two more hours - two hours to have security set up a perimeter...

    "Heeey, Chakwas!" Shepard greeted the doctor with a wave. "Good morning! Doc, meet Luke Skywalker. Luke, Doctor Chakwas."

    "Oh! Good - good morning." Chakwas blinked rapidly even as the young man waved in greeting. She immediately went to Shepard's side, her voice dropping to a low hiss. "Shepard - the security risk -"

    "Yeah, yeah, he's fine. It's fine." Shepard turned her head to glance at the young man. "Yeah, we were going to treat you like a high-grade security risk. Nothing personal, I promise, it's just after meeting your dad and all - Vader's not what you'd call super friendly -"

    " 'f fine," Luke said enthusiastically, nodding, mid-gulp.

    Chakwas gave Shepard another odd look, and she shrugged. "Well, he ate all the leftover alfredo and we don't have any ice-cream cake, so I fixed him a fluffernutter."

    "A fluffer..." Chakwas' eyebrows twitched as she held in a laugh. "You found that on Omega? And you can produce Serrice Ice Brandy out of nowhere..."

    "What can I say, I'm magical," Shepard gloated, grinning widely.

    Chakwas laughed outright at this, shaking her head. "Skywalker, if you would, just a quick examination... look this way, please?"

    "Of course." Luke smiled pleasantly.

    "Thank you. Chin to your chest, please... any pain, dizziness, nausea?"

    "A little bit of a headache."

    "That's to be expected. Any hallucinations - hearing voices, seeing things that aren't there...?"

    "No, nothing like that."

    "He's about as indoctrinated as I am, Chakwas," Shepard said with a grin. "I've been talking to him for, what, the past four hours? Well, okay, it's mostly me talking at him, but he doesn't seem to mind. Do you, Luke? - See, he's a great sport. Especially when he's coming off of a whole cocktail of drugs and I feed him brandy and fluffernutter sandwiches."

    Chakwas shook her head. "Well, Skywalker, you seem as healthy as can be possibly hoped for. It's quite remarkable, really. I've never seen anyone bounce back quite as fast. ...perhaps Shepard, but..."

    He gave a sigh of relief, immediately swinging his legs around as if about to get up off the bed. "So I can leave the medical bay? I just need to stretch my legs and then I'm sure I'll be fine -"

    The young man was down as quickly as he was up, standing and then immediately crumpling to a heap on the floor. Chakwas barely broke his fall, dragging him back up to the cot. "The injury to your leg was traumatic, Skywalker. The damaged flesh and tissue hasn't had time to re-form properly, not to mention that healing could only begin after the infection was clear - and the complications from malnourishment. You'll need to stay here, for the time being." From the way he was wincing, he didn't seem to object, seeming relieved to be back on the cot. "Additionally, given said malnourishment, I'm not sure fluffernutter sandwiches are the ideal food choice right now..."

    Shepard responded to Chakwas' teasing glare with a grin. "Of course it is! All your daily requirements of marshmallow fluff, right in one sandwich. ...Omega marshmallow fluff nonetheless, which probably means someone got murdered over its fluffiness after it was smuggled in by a marshmallow cartel." She stretched with a grunt, swinging her legs over, having to struggle to move the cast. "Anyway, I probably need to check in since everyone's starting to wake up -"

    "No, Shepard. You're staying right here. I'm sure that your leg has re-fractured in at least seven places given what you were doing with Garrus last night."

    "But -"

    Chakwas raised an eyebrow.

    "We didn't even -!"

    Chakwas coupled the glare with putting her hands on her hips.

    "But - I - um - fff... fine, fine, okay." Shepard sighed, flopping back, and Luke observed with interest as he worked on the second half of his sandwich. "Wait, wait. I just said we were going to have dinner! Why do you think -"

    "Mordin sent out a very interesting memo about possible complications to me. He thought I should be aware of specifics, as ship's physician."

    Shepard's hands went to cover her face as her ears blazed red while she blushed. "Oh dear God."

    "I'm afraid it gets worse," Chakwas cautioned. "I may have... accidentally, I assure you! ...replied to the entire crew, with the body of the message from Mordin still intact."

    "Chakwas, it's a good thing I know you so well..."

    "It was an accident! Besides, now everyone is apparently going to be very prepared with epinephrine should you share a romantic kiss with Garrus in the heat of battle and have an adverse reaction."

    "Oh Jesus tapdancing Christ. I was expecting EDI to be the ship's gossip, not you!" Shepard ran a hand through her hair before letting her arm flop comically off of the cot's edge. "Kid - Skywalker, I mean - word of advice. Never date dextro."

    "...Never date what?" He blinked at her rapidly, looking politely confused.

    "I haven't explained to you about dextro yet? Good thing Chakwas is here. Sorry the crash course in this universe is so shoddy, but it gives us something to talk about while we're stuck here, right?" She settled back against the cot, gesturing widely. "So. There's two types in this universe - generally speaking..."
  3. Harpalyce

    Harpalyce Jedi Knight star 3

    Jun 19, 2010
    The small hours of the morning slid onwards, and as activity picked up, Skywalker's energy waned. He had seemed mildly surprised at how understanding Shepard was at his need to meditate, and she in turn seemed somewhat curious about his request that they keep on talking due to his preference for the friendly chatter of others.

    If anything, Shepard seemed to have forgotten about him completely, as she started on her third cup of coffee and talked with Chakwas.

    "...We haven't even done anything!" She shook her head, laughing. "I swear. Honest! I don't know why everyone keeps thinking that."

    "Probably because you two had a romantic dinner and he didn't come out until late," Chakwas teased.

    "All right, all right... you want to know what happened? I bawled like a little baby, then we got drunk, and I decided that I had to make him watch The Sound of Music right then - you know, that old vid, one of the ones with all the singing - the songs get stuck in my head something fierce. I forgot how long the thing is, you know? But then I found that brandy I stashed up in my cabin..."

    The doors to the medbay slid open, and Garrus piped up, teasing: "I think that was about when you decided you needed to explain to me how it's always okay to shoot Nazis."

    She twisted around, greeting the turian with a hug, and Chakwas smiled at the two of them. "Yeah, it was a great history lesson. I'm a fantastic teacher," Shepard teased before Garrus gestured to Skywalker, sitting a few beds down with his head bowed and breathing even. "Oh, yeah, the new kid. He's great, you'll like him. Hasn't even tried to kill me once yet. Scout's honor!" Garrus rolled his eyes, but Luke fortunately was already drifting out of his meditation with a deep sigh. "Garrus Vakarian, meet Luke Skywalker."

    "Good to meet you," Luke said pleasantly, shaking Garrus' offered hand. His tone was still a little distant and drowsy, though gentle and calm.

    "Likewise. ...You know, I wasn't quite expecting such a warm reception. Most humans are still a little suspicious of turians."

    It was the first time Shepard had seen him even closed to offended. "I'm no racist, if that's what you're saying. I don't buy into the Imperial propaganda about how humanity is the best. I even took Yuzzem in school for my foreign language when everybody else was busy taking Twi'lek to chat up the dancing girls -"

    He paused, blinking a few times as if finally remembering where he was. "That... didn't make any sense to you, did it?" Shepard and Garrus both shook their heads, and he mumbled an apologetic "Sorry."

    "It's fine, kid." Shepard smiled broadly. "We're probably going to get stuck talking nonsense to one each other. Don't worry about it. - See, Garrus? Good kid."

    "Shepard -" His tone was polite, as usual. "I was wondering something...?"

    "Sure, shoot." Garrus stood back, watching in interest.

    "Uh..." He turned, gesturing to the doorway at the far side of the medbay. "What - exactly - is in there?"

    "Oh! That's the AI core - mostly our pet geth."


    "Well, it's... I'd better start at the beginning." Shepard scrunched her nose, looking back to Garrus. "Do you think Tali would kill me if I made some little finger puppets for explaining the Morning War to people?"

    "Yeah, just a little bit," Garrus said, grinning.

    "All right, all right. Short version this time. Geth are a form of synthetic life." Although his eyebrows knit in immediate confusion, as if Shepard had just spouted the worst of oxymorons, she blithely continued. "Most of them that we encounter, we shoot. I've spent most of my time fighting them off. But those - they're crazy cultists, more or less. Legion's on our side. Of course, Legion still has orders to not wake me up in the middle of the night or else I might shoot 'im in the face and then cry about it, but, you know..."

    "Synthetic life?" He finally repeated the words, incredulous.

    The display next to Chakwas' desk flickered on, a glowing blue hologram appearing there. EDI's voice, smooth and calm as always, piped up: "I believe I may be able to more accurately describe -"

    The AI didn't get farther than that, because Skywalker jumped like a cat thrown into a pool, flailing and startled. He managed to fall backwards off the cot he had been sitting on, almost immediately giving a muffled "I'm okay! I'm okay!" even as Garrus and Chakwas rushed to help him.

    "My apologies. From your father's reaction, I assumed VI interfaces were standard in your universe," EDI explained calmly. Shepard winced sympathetically even as Luke gave a few more addled, reflexive apologies.

    "I didn't know synthetic life could... happen." Luke shook his head before giving a small smile. "That makes it... make sense, I suppose."

    "It can here, at least, for good and for bad." Shepard smiled, and Garrus gave a low chuckle.

    "I'm going to go..." Garrus leaned in for Shepard to give him a kiss on the cheek.

    "Yeah, yeah. Calibrations. I'll see you at lunch." Shepard grinned before turning her attention back to Skywalker. "You either look like you're about to sneeze, or you're trying to figure out how to not sound crazy while explaining something."

    Luke laughed. "The second part, I guess. It's hard to explain, I mean - what I felt while meditating..."

    "If you're nervous about religious things, kid, don't worry." Shepard shifted her broken leg with a grunt, fluffing up an extra pillow and propping it up. "I'm not one of those hardass captains who thinks we killed God with the spaceship. So go on, don't worry about speaking freely."

    "It's - well." He gestured with his hands, looking at his fingertips as he thought. "The universe is all connected by the Force - it binds together all living things - it surrounds us, it's part of us." He looked up to Shepard a moment as if expecting her to come back with some comment about hokey religion and preferring a blaster at her side.

    Instead she gave a slow nod. "Sort of like the Asari, then. Yeah, that makes sense."

    "When I was meditating, that's what I... listen to. Or feel." From the way Shepard's eyebrows knit, Luke could tell he was quickly losing her confidence. "There's so much life behind that door - I couldn't tell what it was. I hadn't really felt anything like it since finding a nest colony of Jubba birds on Dagobah."

    "Aahh... that'd be Legion. The thing about geth - well. Honestly most of the time I think of Legion as a bunch of tiny aliens piloting a great big mech. But one geth - it's just one little part. Legion is... several thousand of them, all in a mobile platform. Hence his name. ...its name. Their name. ...And I'm sure that EDI's pleased as punch about being counted as part of that life bindey forcey thingy."

    (The holographic representation of the AI did, in fact, look pleased.)

    "And don't worry, kid." Shepard gave him a lopsided smile. "I don't think you're crazy. Not yet, anyway."
  4. Luna_Nightshade

    Luna_Nightshade Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jan 25, 2006
    This is quite a bit over my head... but I do very much enjoy the characters' personalities, and the banter. I really like Luke trying to fit into this group in his semi-awkward way. I'm trying to keep up, but ultimately I think that would require playing ME2... which is also a bit over my head! [face_laugh]
  5. obimom

    obimom Jedi Master star 4

    Oct 31, 2010
    Glad to see this begun!!

    Interesting seeing Luke just seem to accept his situation without much of a fuss, and the crew of NOrmandy accepting of someone from another universe without freaking out...but guess when they've seen the things they've seen, not much can surprise them..:)

    I'm getting at least some of this because of my son playing ME2, but he hasn't finished it yet...he's been playing several other games as well.

  6. Harpalyce

    Harpalyce Jedi Knight star 3

    Jun 19, 2010
    Thank you both so much!

    I promise that the story will eventually swing back to the more accessible side of things for my SW readers, when Shepard and company find themselves in the GFFA. Until then there's a lot of just basic character interaction. Hopefully it'll be entertaining enough to keep people reading!


    Shepard had been pleasantly surprised, though she admitted that it was likely because her standards were so very low. Compared to the personnel nightmare that Vader had been, Luke Skywalker was a golden child. His most annoying trait was understandable confusion about the new world he was in, but that was honestly more endearing than anything else. He was polite. He was gentle. He wasn't likely to kill any other crewmembers on board. He didn't put a feeling of anxiousness into her stomach. Hell, he was even friendly, which was so novel that it completely shocked her. After cobbling together a patchwork crew of mismatched criminals and exiles, it was amazing to have someone who was so cooperative.

    Between that and what had now become near-daily dinners with Garrus, usually followed by a few more attempts to understand how french kissing with Turian mandibles worked, Shepard was in fantastically high spirits. She was grinning ear to ear as she strode into the medbay. "Luke?" There was no answer - the medbay was empty. But the door to the AI core was open, and Legion lifted its head.

    "Shepard-Commander." Even the geth's attitude seemed much more sunny than usual. Shepard took it as an example of Luke's near-miraculous kindness - he was willing to talk with Legion, doing his best to understand the geth's point of view, polite to a fault.

    "Hey, Legion. Seen the kid? I thought Chakwas had told him to stick to the medbay still with that nasty limp."

    Legion's eyeflaps shifted quizzically. "Skywalker is on patrol attempting to connect socially with other crewmembers. We were informed his itenerary begins in the cargo bay. Skywalker insisted on 'working his way up' although we informed him this is not the most efficient pathing -"

    "Wait, wait. Cargo bay?" Shepard's eyebrows knit in worry. "Who exactly is he going to visit first?"

    "Based on given data and current Normandy mapping, 99.08% probability Skywalker is initiating communication with Jack."

    Shepard's mouth dropped open. "Oh Lord. Tell me you're kidding. You're - you're not kidding, Legion. Oh Lord." The geth's eyeflap waggled in mild alarm. Shepard let out a string of curses, turning and running out of the medbay as quickly as she could. Her injured leg still meant that at speed she was limping. As soon as she entered the elevator, she immediately started jamming the down button. "Come on, go faster, go faster - I don't want my Normandy exploded to pieces - I mean, exploded to pieces again - Goddamnit, go faster-!" Shepard resorted to jamming the elevator button with her palm, then her entire fist. As soon as the doors opened, she was out, running as hard as she could.

    As soon as the first set of doors to Engineering opened, she could hear Jack's voice.

    "...And this one? Guy did it for me with a sewing needle and an ink pen. Real old-school."

    "That's, uh... very interesting..."

    "It's 'cos I killed a guy - his head exploded and -"

    "Hey, wow, would you look at that," Shepard interrupted too loudly, stumbling down the last few steps. "There you are, Skywalker, look, kid -"

    Luke was standing as perfectly still as he possibly could. Even in the face of Jack he seemed to be trying his damnedest to be polite to the very end.

    "What's the rush?" Jack was leering. "C'mon, Shepard. I'm just waiting for him to look down. Most men stare at my chest instead of my eyes all the damn time, and this little boyscout won't even glance -" She jumped up and down for emphasis, the strappy excuse for a shirt not doing much in the way to help any sense of modesty.

    "That'sgreatJackbutwereallygottago," Shepard blurted out in one long rush, placing a firm hand on Luke's shoulder and all but dragging him up the stairs. Fortunately he only resisted long enough to call out a somewhat quavering "Nice meeting you!" before dashing behind her. A moment more and she pulled him into the Engineering deck proper, the door closing behind them. Immediately Shepard flattened herself against the door as if keeping it closed by sheer force of will. "Okay. Okay, kid. New rule!" Shepard ran her hands through her hair, shaking somewhat. "There are certain people you don't go to see alone. All right? Jack is one of those people. She's crazy."

    "I had started to notice that, yes," Luke spluttered.

    "It gets worse. Jack - she wanted a showdown with your dad, once we were back from the Omega Relay. She was already looking for a fight with Samara about who got to go toe-to-toe with him first. She's a killer - it's not her fault, but - she loves killing, that is what she lives for, and if she can't fight him, she will fight you." Shepard turned her head to lock eyes with Luke. "That is why you are not to go see her alone, ever. That is an order, Skywalker. You understand?"

    "Yes ma'am," he answered promptly, and in a tone that said he would be all too happy to follow such an order.

    "Shepard?" An accented voice came from the bowels of the engine room, and Tali pulled herself up, clinging to the railing, omnitool still glowing. "Is everything all right? I heard yelling..."

    "Yeah, yeah. Everything's fine." Shepard gave a long sigh of relief before putting on a smile. "Tali, meet Luke Skywalker, the new kid. Luke, Tali."

    Luke put on a bright and relaxed smile, hand out for a handshake. "It's good to meet you. You're a... quarian, right? Legion was telling me about the Morning War earlier today."

    It was an admirable attempt at small talk, but it made Shepard immediately turn around and lightly bonk her head against the closed door before reaching out for Luke's sleeve. "Oh Goddammit. Kid, we're going on here, and forgetting that just happened, and making a brand-new start -"

    Fortunately, Tali laughed. "It's all right, Shepard. I read the memos, I think he's allowed to have a few slip-ups. What's that expression you used once? 'Foot in your mouth'?"

    Luke was already wincing a little, looking properly chagrined. "I suppose quarians don't call it the Morning War."

    "Most quarians don't enjoy talking about it at all," Tali noted wryly. "But no harm done. Shepard's already told me some about you. ...and Legion's not as bad as I think it is." She paused. "Sometimes. Very rarely."

    "Glad you clarified there Tali, you were about to give me a heart attack," Shepard teased. "...If you're all right, Luke, I'll get back up to CIC. For the record, Tali's one of the people you can be alone with. If she shotguns you in the face, you probably deserve it, but you're a good kid and I know it won't come to that." She gave Luke a friendly pat on the back. "You two have fun."

    She was on her way out when she heard Luke's voice as he nervously cleared his throat. "...Should I try this again?"

    "It's fine. Really. If you want me to explain anything, I'd be happy to, I was just doing some repairs..."

    "I don't want to be a nuisance. ...I could hand down tools to you and we can talk while you work?"

    Tali didn't mention that her omnitool was all she needed - not in the face of his enthusiasm and helpfulness. "All right. So what do you want to know, Luke...?"
  7. obimom

    obimom Jedi Master star 4

    Oct 31, 2010
    Wow, I don't remember Luke being that polite...more like impatient, quick to react (at first), but then he's in a totally different situation than what he's used to...

    Good chapter..seeing Luke try to introduce himself to the crew members...but he's better watch out for Jack!
  8. Harpalyce

    Harpalyce Jedi Knight star 3

    Jun 19, 2010
    I figure that since this is ROTJ Luke, he's willing to be a bit more patient and friendly as compared to fresh-off-the-moisture-farm ;) That and I think right now he's really keenly aware he's in his father's shadow, so I think he's being very nice as a sort of apology XD

    Another chapter will come rather soon with some nice discussion between Luke and Shepard that should be a bit of a break from all this ME-heavy stuff :)
  9. Harpalyce

    Harpalyce Jedi Knight star 3

    Jun 19, 2010
    The first thing he always remembered was the heat. It was searing and acrid, ripping the moisture from his lips, from his eyes, each blink gritty and gummy. It was almost like home - no, it was worse than home. Tatooine was at least familiar. But this... it was far harsher than even the worst heat with each twin sun beating down on him. Then the voice thundered out, not in the air as much as already in his ears and in his mind.


    As he struggled up, the wind nearly knocked him down. It was so incredibly hot, seeming to almost dry the humanity out of him. His body ached.


    His feet nearly slipped out from under him, but he clawed his way forward. Don't look back, don't look back - he didn't know what was behind him, but it had to be something horrible. He reached for a rock and immediately recoiled. It was organic, chitin and flesh. This landscape was not made: it was grown.


    He wasn't able to move fast enough. The walls were slick with something - mucus? Blood? He couldn't tell - there was just that pressing need to get away. He could feel the urgency pressing on his back, pushing him along. There was a tidal wave behind him - a quickly eroding cliff edge - a vast nothing. Not the Dark Side. The Dark still lived, still breathed. There was life after death, that was how the cycle went on and on. This was nothing. A crushing, oppressive nothing -


    And he turned his head to look over his shoulder at the void.


    Luke gasped, bolting upright, his hands tightly clutching the cot blankets. The Normandy was just unfamiliar enough to still be disorienting, but after a few long moments, panting in residual fear, he let his head drop, putting his head in his hands and covering his face. He was in the medbay - he was safe. He could close his eyes and listen through the Force. He was not on the Collector ship, he reminded himself almost on rote. Around him were the humming signatures of everyone on the ship, of the ship itself - of disagreements, aspirations, hopes and dreams, not simply orders being followed lock-step.

    He was safe.

    But maybe a walk would clear his head.

    To Luke's surprise, there was a light on near the small kitchen area; he could see it through the windows of the medbay. Even if it was simply someone's forgetfulness, maybe a glass of water would help. Normally the ship was buzzing in activity, even at night, but with the ship docked for repairs, everyone was asleep.

    ...except for Shepard.

    She peered out of the kitchen pantry and gave him a tired smile. "Hey, kid." The way her voice seemed drowsy, she was surely just as tired as he was. "Lemme guess. Nightmare?"

    He sighed, and nodded his head. "Yeah."

    "I'd tell you it gets better, but I'm up for the same reason." She shook her head, reaching for another mug - plain with a beautiful jewel-tone glaze, downright elegant next to her battered and chipped mug with a worn inscription of Number One Boss!. "Ever had hot chocolate?"

    "No, I'm more used to milk, I guess. But sure, that'd be great. Thanks."

    The dry mix was far from a staple on regular military vessels, but it was obvious Shepard had stocked up at the start of the mission. As the hot water hit the dry mix, the rich smell of chocolate hit the air. Shepard scrambled around in the cabinets a moment before pulling out a bag. "Marshmallows. Best part." She caught the look in Luke's eye and handed him the bag, and he shamelessly pulled out a handful to start nibbling on. "C'mon, kid. Let's sit for a minute."

    Despite the empty space and quiet, the plain cafeteria tables were downright cozy. Luke gave a small appreciative sound at the first sip of hot chocolate, enjoying the delightfully novel taste. Shepard took another few deep sips of her own drink before clearing her throat. "I'd been meaning to talk to you. I figure now's as good a time as any." He glanced at her over the top of his mug while she continued to look down, swirling the hot cocoa around a little. "You seem like something's bothering you, and I think I know what it is. I can't help but feel responsible for part of it. I should've held some service, by now, but I didn't know your customs - and there isn't even a body. That's gotta make it harder. ...Your father wasn't exactly Miss Congeniality, but I have enough favors I can call in that I can get this entire ship to show up and pay respects if you want that to happen."

    A very soft smile crossed his face. "No, that's... it's fine." It dropped off his face as he tapped his fingertips against the side of his mug.

    "So then what's bothering you?"

    There was a long moment of silence between them.

    "Come on, kid. It's all right."

    "I should have been there." He shook his head a little. "At the end, when my father died."

    "You were unconscious. In a real bad way when we found you -"

    "If I had been there, I could have saved him, Shepard."

    She let a small sigh out of her nose. "Luke... listen. I didn't know your father well, but I knew him well enough. When a person like that gets it in their head to do something - even if it's to... to end it - they can't be persuaded otherwise. You can't talk them out of it."

    "That was what I was supposed to do, Shepard. And I wasn't there to do it." He tapped his fingers on the mug a moment more before taking a long sip of hot cocoa.

    Shepard let herself sigh more fully as she reached over to pat his arm. "You can't let yourself drown in guilt. Your dad... your dad was a fighter. He was good at destroying things. But you and I both know there's more to life than fighting. Your body count doesn't make you a great person, the head on your shoulders does. What's done is done. You keep your head above water. The rest will come in time."

    His hair was swept messily into his face, and he gently reached back to tuck some of it behind his ear. "I think I've heard something like that before, from someone who used to teach me." It was a welcome change of conversation, and he leaned back in his chair a little. "Did I ever tell you about Master Yoda?"

    "Nah, don't think you did. But I think we both could use a little time swapping war stories." She smiled gently. "Tell me about Yoda and I'll tell about that time I punched a bear."

    "Deal." He raised his glass, and they clinked mugs. "Yoda, he was... I'd better start at the beginning, or close to it. So I was going in for a landing on Dagobah - this swamp planet - it was almost a blind landing, with all the fog and foliage..."

    "Ugh, I hate swamps. Mud always gets in my armor something awful."

    "Just wait, it gets worse." The smile playing around the edge of his mouth became a little more genuine. "As soon as I open the hatch I realize my fighter's sinking..."

    "Oh God, you're kidding!"

    "No, not at all." By now Luke was grinning. "Half an hour later, you could just barely see the top of my X-wing, it was that deep in the muck. And of course there's mud everywhere. On me, on my droid, in my droid, I'm pretty sure I'd swallowed a mouthful too at some point, and half my supplies went down in my fighter..."

    "Good Lord, I would've goddamn murdered something," Shepard laughed. "How the hell did you get out of that place? Take another ship out?"

    "Oh, no, I went back out the same way I came." Luke grinned as Shepard gawked. "I'll get to it, promise! I was busy trying to fix the droid a little when I heard something from the underbrush..."

    This time, Shepard didn't interrupt, instead smiling at Luke and nodding to let him know she was listening attentively. And by their third cup of hot chocolate, she knew who Master Yoda was.
  10. obimom

    obimom Jedi Master star 4

    Oct 31, 2010
    Loved that...Shepherd hearing about Master Yoda...great story Luke was telling, almost wish I'd been there (to hear him tell it.) :)
  11. Harpalyce

    Harpalyce Jedi Knight star 3

    Jun 19, 2010

    The Justicar smiled softly as the door opened behind her, and Shepard ambled in. "Do you have a minute, Samara?"

    "For you? Of course." The asari moved over, letting Shepard come to sit on the floor beside her. Shepard was still moving slowly and stiffly, her injured leg sore though out of its healing brace. From the smile she wore, it had evidently been awhile since they had talked, and Samara was glad for the company.

    "I wanted to talk about something... specific. I'm just not sure how to go about it."

    "You know you don't have to be delicate, Shepard."

    Shepard herself gave a sigh, leaning back a little. "You know I'm a Spacer kid, right? I'm sure I've mentioned it. Anyway... my best friend - Nashira. Really nice girl, we went to camp together. But that's not the point. The point is her father was of high enough rank he got away with keeping a pet on board an Alliance vessel - a golden retriever, in fact. When Nashira's mother was transferred off, she went with her, but her father and the dog stayed. Of course he was gone all day, so the poor thing just threw a fit out of loneliness."

    Samara delicately raised one smooth blue eyebrow.

    "I'm going somewhere with this, I promise. ...Anyway. The thing was so lonely I started inviting myself over to come see it. Not to do anything special, just to play tug-of-war and toss a ball around for it. And it was always so happy to see me, but I couldn't be there all the time. The dog was just so lonely. It just wanted someone to pay attention to it." She looked out of the corner of her eye. "I think you get where I'm going with this. We just got a new pet golden retriever on board and his name's Luke Skywalker."

    "I'm not exactly sure what you expect me to do, Shepard."

    The redhead gave a long sigh. "I was hoping to not be so... I dunno. Blunt about it. Sounds tacky when you just put it out there."

    Samara glanced over to her, and for a long moment, they locked eyes, blue versus blue. "If I didn't know you so well, Shepard, I might be insulted." Her voice held a tone of solemn grief.

    "I know. I know it's stupid and obvious. But... he's getting over having a goddamn awful father. You're getting over having an awful daughter. I mean - both of them did awful things. It's as much Luke's fault for what his father was as it is yours of Morinth's."

    "I highly doubt that." Samara gave a sad little smile before straightening her back. "It has been over four hundred years since I was a mother. When I became a Justicar, I left my old life behind."

    Shepard let a long sigh roll out of her. "You can't let go of something like that, not really. You'll still be a mother the same way I'll always be that goddamn spacer kid who gets really excited about trees. I mean, you have to admit. Trees are pretty exciting, being all green and leafy and tall and crap."

    A small smile cracked on Samara's face.

    "I'm not saying you have to adopt him, Samara. Just... come out onto the rest of the ship every so often. Say hello. Talk to him. He's been begging me to come help him with sparring practice, with that light-sword thing. Closest I can come to that is kickboxing. But Justicars know some sort of staff, right? Ceremonial thing? If you'd just go find some wooden sticks and help him practice..."

    Her expression was softening even as Shepard's tone became desperate. "Please? Say it's a personal favor to me, if nothing else. The kid's lonely as hell. I don't blame him. He gets scooped up by collectors, then his dad kicks the bucket, then he's dumped in this place he doesn't know a thing about and to top it off he has me as his commander, y'know?"

    Shepard was grinning, and Samara slowly returned the smile. "I'll talk to him, Shepard. As a personal favor."

    Samara was still caught off-guard when Shepard leaned in to give her a hug. "Thanks, Samara. I really, really appreciate it. He's a good kid, I promise, and you two will have fun sparring if you get around to that." The Justicar helped her up, and Shepard looked greatly relieved. "And when you're out and about, come say hi to me, too. I know Justicars don't socialize much but we'd love to see you at dinner."

    She waved as she walked through the door, out into the hallway of the crew deck. When she saw that Luke was exiting the other side, Shepard gave a wide smile. "...Sure, I'll stop by tomorrow. Thanks for showing me those paintings, Kasumi!" Luke smiled brightly before turning around and looking down at himself. "Uh..." He only noticed after a moment of puzzled searching that his lightsaber was gone from his belt, and had been replaced by a rose. "...Miss Kasumi?"

    "There's no need to call me Miss, honest," she said, standing in her doorway.

    Luke simply stared at her expectantly, gesturing out with the rose. Kasumi was grinning wildly underneath her hood, and she nearly skipped forward to present him with his lightsaber and take back her rose. Luke did not look terribly impressed, though he did seem to bite back a smile.

    "Jesus, Kasumi, do you always flirt by stealing people's stuff?" Shepard shook her head. "Welcome to the Normandy Loony Bin, kid, glad to have you here," she teased Luke, who smiled in earnest as they both stepped into the elevator.

    "Hey. Skywalker. I meant to offer awhile ago." Shepard looked down at her feet for a moment before looking up. "Chakwas was looking over your medical records... It wouldn't be any trouble for us to use some of Cerberus' tech, and get your prosthetic hand upgraded. Virtually painless for you, quick and easy, and it'd be a great step up in terms of functionality."

    "No." His answer was firm in a way that reminded her slightly of his father. "It's a good... reminder."

    "Reminder?" Her eyebrows knit in confusion. "You might have to explain that one to me."
    Luke reached down to adjust the glove on his hand. "I will," he said after a moment. "When it's the right time."

    There was a finality in his tone that Shepard respected, giving a nod and not pressing the issue further. He seemed to relax a little, and gave her a small (if tired) smile before he stepped out into the CIC, on his way to give Mordin another blood culture sample. Shepard watched him get quickly intercepted by a fawning and enthusiastic Kelly.

    And she made a mental note, as she pressed the elevator button to head up to her quarters, to tease him tomorrow about his apparent effect on the ladies of the ship.
  12. obimom

    obimom Jedi Master star 4

    Oct 31, 2010
    I was just thinking right before I read the last sentence that Luke seems to be a hit with the ladies on that ship. :) I wonder if he'll fall for any of them...

    Interesting chapter. I will be really interesting when/if Luke finally does tell Shepherd what his real relationship with Vader was like...:D
  13. Skywalker_T-65

    Skywalker_T-65 Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Nov 19, 2009
    Great Chapter. Luke is going to have some problems soon. Looking forward to the next chapter.
  14. Harpalyce

    Harpalyce Jedi Knight star 3

    Jun 19, 2010
    Luke's relationship woes will be coming up later, lol. I figure that this is a perfect opportunity to have some fun at his expense [face_laugh] But I admit that a lot of these chapters are just for absurdity, though I promise that we'll get to actual, you know, plot stuff soon. ^^ I'm glad y'all are enjoying it!
  15. Harpalyce

    Harpalyce Jedi Knight star 3

    Jun 19, 2010
    "Commander Shepard."

    She grunted, trying to burrow into the soft pillow. A hand reached down to gently shake her shoulder.

    "I need to speak with you, Shepard."

    She gave a small whine through her nose before finally rolling over. It was an unpleasant experience, waking yet not waking. And as soon as Shepard realized she was still dreaming, she gave a loud curse. "Goddamn it! You can't be serious."

    The man standing there was looking very apologetic, at least. He stepped back, giving her some space, adjusting his plain brown robes as she scrambled to her feet. "Look," Shepard said angrily, "I don't care if the Protheans put up flyers saying, oh, I don't know, 'party at Shepard's head, bring your own emotional problems' - I have got enough -" she gestured at her temple - "going on in here, enough okay?! ENOUGH!"

    The older man gestured with his hands as if saying he wasn't there to hurt her. "I only need a moment of your time, Commander Shepard. I mean you no harm."

    "Yeah? YEAH?! So just what right do you have to waltz into my head and muck up my dreams like this?!"

    "I believe I may still outrank you," the old man said with a decidedly amused tone. "If I still hold the rank of General. But I also realize that is not a terribly good reason." He gestured out widely. "And I can assure you. I would not be here if the matter were not important."

    Shepard gave a frustrated sigh, tugging down her clothing - a simple set of civvies that her mind had filled in. "Fine. Fine. You might be in my head, General, but I get to decide where we talk. None of that goddamn creepy meeting room thing that Vader sprung on me."


    Well, at least he was noticeably nicer than Vader. The shadows shifted around them, filled in with a memory - lush forest from the summer camp that Shepard had attended, many years ago. Of course, now there was a nice bucket of cold beer, and her omnitool was still on her arm. She snapped open a bottle, offering it out to him. "If you're stuck in my head, you have to at least have a drink with me, General, sir."

    "Please, call me Ben."

    "If you pull rank on me, sir, I call you General. That's how it goes." Despite her brusque attitude, the man still took a beer from her, and they sat down on one of the logs around the campfire as makeshift benches.

    He reached up a moment to tug on his white beard, looking up and around at the forest around them. His blue eyes were at least comforting in a way that Vader's blank eyes could never be. There was a peacefulness that clung to him just as his shabby, humble robes did. While Vader had introduced an immediate sense of dread and fear into her mind, he seemed to do the exact opposite. In fact he was smiling as he looked back into the trees and readily took a small sip of the beer. "This is a lovely forest, Shepard. Thank you for showing it to me."

    "Cut the bull, General. I realize the higher the rank, the less likely anyone is to talk sense." Shepard sighed, taking a long drink of her beer. Despite her annoyance, it was becoming increasingly harder to be irritated at him. "What are you here to talk to me about?" Her mouth drew into a thin frown. "Better yet, how about some introductions. You have me at a disadvantage here, General."

    "Certainly. My name is Ben Kenobi - Jedi Master, mentor to both Luke Skywalker and his father."

    The man seemed to brace himself, and Shepard merely took another long sip of her beer.

    "...He was a very different man when I trained him."

    "I'm not about to go off on you," Shepard admitted with a sigh. "I've been around the universe long enough to know you don't get that... bad unless you start off good. Road to hell paved with good intentions, crap like that." Her expression hardened again. "I just have one thing I have to ask you about."

    "Of course."

    "Battle of Naboo." Shepard's eyes narrowed. "I hope you've got a damn good explanation for that, before I take Vader's word on it, and what exactly the Jedi are."

    "Shepard -"

    "He was nine years old. Nine goddamn years old!" She raised her hand, pointing at him accusingly; with dreamy logic, her loose hooded sweatshirt was quickly being replaced with armor. "If you don't look me in the eye and tell me right now that this Jedi group doesn't use child soldiers, you will regret it. I don't care if you outrank me, General Kenobi."

    To her relief, he met her eyes, gaze clear and sincere. "There are many things that I regret, Shepard. Not keeping Luke's father safe during the Battle of Naboo is one of them."
    Out in the forest, crickets called softly, followed by the soft coo of calling birds. Only the forest spoke, their eyes locked. The calm blue of his eyes was reassuring. The regret behind them was real.

    "All right." Shepard took another sip of beer, finally nodding. "What did you come to talk to me about, General Kenobi?"

    "The boy - Luke Skywalker." His tone held a twang of paternal worry. "I realize you do not know the whole situation of our universe, but - please - he is the last hope the Jedi have. Perhaps the only hope of the entire universe."

    "I hate to tell you this, General, but if the Reapers win - everyone loses. This universe, and yours."

    He nodded. "All I ask is that you keep him out of danger, as much as possible." A small, sad smile crossed his face. "Perhaps as much as he'll let you."

    "He's part of my crew now, General." Shepard gave a lopsided smile. "You go waltz into Joker's head, tell me what he says about what I do for my crew. If he's half as good at fighting as his father was, he'll be welcome to come carve through some Husks and Collectors, but I'll be busting my ass to make sure he makes it through all right."

    "And I am here to say that if you let him on the battlefield at all, there will be consequences." Both the General and Shepard sat up straight in alarm at hearing the deep, rumbling voice. While Kenobi was humble and gentle in appearance - normal to the point of being boring - another entered Shepard's dreams with a distinct flair. Fire and lava boiled at the edge of the forest, and the strong bite of brimstone made Shepard's nose wrinkle. Slick shadows arranged themselves into an intimidating set of robes and harsh armor - and a young man with messy hair and a scar over one eye... both eyes were still flat white and blank.

    "Ah. Thank you for joining us, Anakin," the General said calmly.

    "You know very well that isn't my name, old man."

    Shepard squinted. "Anakin Vader? That's your name? Suddenly I don't blame you too much about only going by your last name. Sounds kinda like something I'd find on the menu at Fishdog Food Factory, right next to the Tuchanka Curry Mix and Asari-style Pad Thai." She paused a moment, ignoring the apparently growing confrontation in front of her as Vader loomed over Kenobi, snarling. "Jesus, now I want some pad thai."

    "Shepard. I should hope, for your sake, that you are taking this seriously," Vader snarled.

    She merely tapped her chopsticks together - because, of course, by dreamy logic, after wishing and wanting, she immediately had a bowl of pad thai in her hands. "Yeah, yeah, sure. Completely serious. So do you bunch over in this other universe have any understanding of manners? 'cause wandering into somebody's head..."

    Vader's red lightsaber lashed out, hovering by Shepard's ear. "Shepard. For your sake. Listen."

    Shepard stared him down a moment before gathering up a bunch of noodles and popping it in her mouth. "Mmm. Fresh peanuts and lime juice. Makes all the difference," she gushed. As she scooped up another bunch, drawing the noodles out of the bowl, Vader flicked his lightsaber, slicing the tips of the chopsticks off so that they clattered into the bowl along with the noodles. "...Oh, come on."

    "As for you..." Vader whirled, glaring down at Kenobi - who was still sitting on the log, bottle of beer in hand. "You have no right to be here..."

    "Hey, hey. Before you two start some sort of epic battle, find a better place." Both of them turned to look at her - Kenobi's expression neutral, Vader wearing a snarl. "You heard me, calico cat, gingham dog. Shoo. Outta my head."

    The ground smoldered in embers around Vader's feet, and he looked more than willing to completely ignore Shepard's request. But Kenobi rose before bowing towards her. "Of course, Shepard. Thank you for hearing my concerns." He turned to walk off into the forest, already blurring around the edges as his presence withdrew from her mind. Vader merely gave her a warning glare before striding off in the same direction, in obvious pursuit, lightsaber still out and lit.

    And Shepard sat back down in her dream, settling by the fire, stretching her legs out and using her shortened chopsticks to take another bite of her pad thai.

    "Goddamn Jedi," she sighed.
  16. whateveritis12

    whateveritis12 Jedi Knight star 3

    Nov 29, 2008
    Anakin was 9 during the Battle of Naboo. Still not the greatest of situations but definitely better than a 6 year old.
  17. Harpalyce

    Harpalyce Jedi Knight star 3

    Jun 19, 2010
    ! Thank you! Let me go get that fixed. I'm not the best with numbers, LOL
  18. obimom

    obimom Jedi Master star 4

    Oct 31, 2010
    Interesting dream!! and now Shepherd has met Obi-Wan. If he could appear to her in Ewan's face, think she'd fall in love? :D

    Anyway, that's the only thing about Vader dying before he came back to the he's a menace to Obi-Wan in the afterlife...what a deal. (But maybe other than Shepherds head, they don't really meet...?)

    I liked this chapter. Will Shepherd tell Luke about her dream..or at least that she met his former mentor?

  19. Harpalyce

    Harpalyce Jedi Knight star 3

    Jun 19, 2010
    This chapter may well be titled, "If you put up with these sorts of shenanigans, you will continue to enjoy Harpalyce's writing. If you don't, abandon all hope ye who enter unto her profile." Extreme silliness abounds! You have now dutifully been warned as to the weirdness I will be up to. [face_batting] This will be shortly continued in a following chapter of course.


    "Skywalker's becoming a real problem, Garrus. I think I'm going to have to do something about it."

    "Really?" Garrus looked over to her, still lounging on the sofa. It was a lazy sort of morning, and Shepard's quarters had been accentuated with two new coffeemakers - one for her, and one for him, filled with the dextro equivalent. He was already on his second cup. Shepard, meanwhile, was on her third outfit, and most of the contents of her wardrobe were spread out on her bed. After living in her armor for so long, it was time for her - for both of them, really - to figure out what civilian clothes actually looked like, and if they actually had any.

    "Yeah." Shepard frowned at her reflection in the mirror before peeling off her shirt. "He's becoming a terrible distraction to the rest of the crew. Not anything he's doing on purpose. But Kelly's tripping over her own two feet about him, Tali's all twitterpated, Miranda - well, Miranda hates him, but I think she hates him in a way that means she's about to jump his bones. And Kasumi, well... Let's just say he's new meat."

    "I don't remember every new crewmember being treated that way. At least, I missed out on that warm Normandy welcome," Garrus said with a laugh.

    "No, no, new meat. I mean new meat." She turned around to catch his confused stare. "You know? Unspoiled land? New, virgin territory?"

    "Shepard! Don't tell me you actually asked him that!"

    "What? No! No, of course not. Totally inappropriate thing for a commander to do." Garrus gave a satisfied nod, taking a sip of his coffee. "Besides, I didn't need to ask him, Kasumi already did." Half the sip of coffee managed to come out of Garrus' mandibles as he spluttered in shock.

    "You've got to be kidding!"

    "Nope. EDI still had the video from the security cameras. She asked him bold as day and he spluttered something about how he was busy saving the universe at the time. If he were anyone else's kid but Vader's, I would have marched right down and given him a big gold star for finally getting angry about something. As it is, I just made Kasumi apologize." She snatched up another shirt, wiggling into it and seeming content enough with it. "But you see what I mean! We have to do something about this before Grunt starts getting bi-curious and hounding the poor kid."

    Garrus put a hand to his temple, shaking his head. "I did not need that mental image. Ever. ...And how exactly are you going to fix this problem? Or do I even want to know?"

    "You probably don't want to know. Anyway, just worry about going and having fun in Nos Astra tonight..."


    "Welcome to Illium, Skywalker. Remember -"

    "No going into dark alleys, don't sign anything, and read all the warning labels," he repeated, nodding in agreement. "I'll be fine, Shepard. I'm just looking forward to a night off the Normandy." He gently patted his arm. "And I triple-checked, all of the comm frequencies are in the omnitool you were able to lend me. I won't get lost. ...Or when I do get lost I can find my way back," he joked with a smile. "I'm just going to people-watch, mainly, anyway."

    "Great, because that's exactly what I was thinking you'd do." Shepard was wearing a grin as the small group from the Normandy ascended the stairs to the Eternity lounge. Tali was already talking excitedly with Jacob, planning to meet Liara later in the evening; Miranda was adamant that she was only going to come for one drink, though it seemed that with the celebratory attitude, they would all be in the bar for the rest of the evening.

    The pulsing beat of the music was soothing, in its own way, and Luke seemed relieved to be off the Normandy. Even if Illium was so very new and different, it was at least something to quench the sensation of cabin fever. The asari matriarch bartender waved them into a private side-room. "Go in and get yourselves comfortable. Open tab, I'm paying for everything! Just a second, Skywalker. Got something for you..."

    While the others settled in, Luke milled about the room, obviously anxious to get a seat next to one of the large windows overlooking the trading-room floor. It only took a few moments, but Shepard marched in, looking thoroughly pleased with herself. "Here, this is for you," she said, grinning. He blinked curiously at the box, gently opening it.

    Inside was an ice-cream cake, properly decorated with an icing border. In deep navy icing, there was the inscription of Sorry Your Dad's Dead.

    Luke stared, his face scrunching a little as if about to sneeze. "Um. I... don't know what to say."

    "You can thank me later," Shepard gushed.

    "No. No, I mean... I don't know what to say." His eyebrows knitted as he stared at Shepard.

    For a moment, she bit her bottom lip. "All right, so maybe the text wasn't the classiest idea. But it gets better! It does -" She excitedly motioned him over to a seat that managed to be situated directly in front of a pole. And, of course, the pole happened to have an asari dancing on it.

    "Heya, sugar," the asari purred, upside-down and displaying her ample assets.

    "I didn't know if you were more a breasts or ass man, or how curvy you like them, so I figured that we'd start off with a happy medium. But there's two more coming, one on the zaftig side and the other a little more twiggy. For right now, this here's Skye, she'll be taking care of you tonight. And don't worry about payment," Shepard said cheerfully. "They're yours for the night."

    Luke quietly stared at Shepard as if begging her to please be kidding.

    "You... do like asari, don't you? I mean, everyone likes asari. Just give the pheromones a minute to kick in."

    "...Shepard, I don't think -"

    "Look, look." She held her hands up in appeal. "Just humor me. Just for an hour. Please? You just need some time to sit back and relax and just... be stupid for awhile. Not trying to be friends with everyone on the Normandy, not trying to figure this whole crazy universe out, not practicing sparring..." She gave a sheepish smile. "And you have to admit, it'll be a hell of a story to tell your friends back home. Just an hour. If you don't like it, you can get up and leave."

    He gave a sigh that seemed to roll out of his body from the soles of his feet. "All right, all right. For an hour. As a personal favor," he grumbled before sitting down.

    Shepard gave Garrus a wide grin, and the turian shook his head as they went out for the closest thing they could manage to a nice dinner out. Then again, kabobs at Fishdog Food Factory while not wearing armor and only one sidearm was as classy as the two seemed to get. As they walked down out of Eternity, Garrus grinned at her. "You know, after seeing you talk down Wrex on Virmire, I thought I couldn't be any more amazed at your skill. But you just talked a man into eating cake and watching strippers. I am truly, truly impressed."

    "I know," Shepard gloated. "I have a gift."

    Meanwhile, back in Eternity, Luke picked up his fork and delicately poked at the cake before scraping off all the writing to one side and taking a nibble of the cake. A nibble turned into a bite, and by about the third bite, he seemed to finally realize the drink that had already been prepared and set out for him. Halfway through his first tequila sunrise, the asari was looking more and more appealing.

    "Oooh, is that ice cream cake?" The asari gushed, straddling the poke and twirling around. "Can I have a bite, honey?"

    "Uh..." He blinked a moment in thought. "Sure, I guess. Why not? I don't have another fork..."

    "That's fine, sweetie." The asari gave her a wide grin before picking up a piece that he had cut away with the fork and licking at it in a downright obscene manner. "Isn't it just so creamy and delicious..."

    Over the next few minutes - and few drinks - the experienced and worldly Jedi was replaced by the wide-eyed and naiive farmboy from Tatooine. And as the two other asari joined the first, it only got worse.

    "Holy... is that... is that even legal?"
  20. Harpalyce

    Harpalyce Jedi Knight star 3

    Jun 19, 2010
    The absurdity continues! ...For the moment. Slightly more srs chapter to follow shortly.


    Shepard nuzzled into her pillow with a whine. "EDI, turn th' lights dooowwn," she mumbled.

    Despite her best efforts, there was still light burning red through her eyelids. Beside her, Garrus shifted and gave a sigh, stretching before going limp once more.

    "EDI... turn the lights down." She spoke slightly more clearly this time, and a little louder, though she still didn't open her eyes. "Damn it... didn't think this was how the AI revolution was gonna start..."

    "Shep..." Garrus mumbled sleepily. "We're planetside. Yelling at the sun isn't going to stop it from rising."

    Carefully, she opened one eye. "Oh... oh, yeah." It took a moment for her to adjust even after remembering the hotel room they had rented for the night. It was certainly much more comfortable than the quarters on the Normandy: with the Illusive Man's credit line, there was no reason to do anything halfway. Breakfast had already been ordered and the small wall panel with the dumbwaiter was already ready and waiting to deliver coffee, french toast, and fresh fruit for them both.

    With a yawn, Shepard flopped halfway out of bed, reaching down to graze her fingers against the floor. "Mmnngh. We should take vacations like this more often."


    "Yeah. And not just after we've saved the whole goddamn universe. ...Again."

    This made Garrus laugh as he rolled over on the bed to peer at her as she finally sat up. She gave a grunt as she stretched one arm and then the other before flopping back down, draping herself over Garrus' chest. "Oouf."

    "D'you know we've slept until nearly nine-hundred?"

    "We'll get fat and lazy at this rate."

    "Yeah... gotta kill all the reapers first. Then get fat and lazy," Shepard muttered. "Gotta do things in order." She groaned, pawing at her eyes, slowly waking up.

    There was a small trill from her omnitool, and Shepard pouted. "Do I have to answer that...?"


    "Screw it, I'm not even sitting up for this." She gave a long sigh before lifting her arm up, the omnitool flickering on. "Whazzit?"

    "Shepard?" Chakwas' voice was calm as ever, though slightly suspicious. "I have a quick question for you. Then you can get back to -"

    "Our very important business of rolling around in bed, yeah." Shepard gave another yawn. "What is it?"

    "What... exactly..." She looked for a moment as if she were about to laugh before shaking her head. "Let me start over. Do you know where Luke Skywalker is?"

    "I got him a hotel room. Only polite after getting someone hookers. It's in the etiquette books, promise," she mumbled.

    "Shepard... he never checked in."

    Immediately, Shepard's eyes snapped open, and she scrambled to sit up instead of lounging against Garrus' chest. "What? But I - he had three asari looking after him! Oh goddammit!" She immediately pinched her nose. "Don't tell me I lost Vader's kid!"

    "He's here at the Normandy, now, don't panic. Apparently one of the asari was so impressed he got dragged back to her apartment. I am going to have to ask you, Shepard, what the hell you put him through...!" Chakwas seemed to be walking the line between furious and amused, and her mouth was twitching in a way that made Shepard think she would either get a lecture or Chakwas doubled over in laughter. Perhaps a bit of both. "Also... Joker says the Illusive Man has been trying to contact you all morning. It sounds serious. You may want to get back to the Normandy."

    "I will, I will. Right after breakfast. See you then, Chakwas." The holoscreen projection flickered off, and Shepard gave a great sigh. "So much for vacation days..."


    As soon as Shepard strode onto the crew deck, Chakwas immediately fixed a glare onto her with a very clear meaning: See what you've done! To her amazement, Luke was actually on his feet, though very wobblingly so, and with a cup of coffee in his hands. He also raised his head to squint at her. "Shepard!"

    "Sure, kid, what -"

    "Hsshh!" He flailed in a distinctly drunken manner. "Sshhh. Hsshh.Don't... don't shout."

    Shepard bit her bottom lip for a moment, dropping her voice to a whisper. "Of course. Yeah." It was painfully obvious that Skywalker was in the middle of two unfortunate states: both deeply hungover and blackout drunk. The upside would be that he wouldn't remember embarrassing himself in the morning, of course, and that made it much harder to keep from laughing. "What d'you need, kid? Have a good time?"

    He gave a comically enthusiastic nod before putting up a hand. "But - um - I did get... lectured. Afterwards, I mean." He gestured as if trying to pull words from the air, but all he managed was more slurring. "Apparently Jedi are supposed to be celibate, or something."

    "Oh, damn!" Shepard squeaked, keeping her voice in a quiet whisper. "I didn't get you in trouble, did I?"

    "No, no, 'sok," he slurred. "Apparently I'm an exception. Since I'm the last one. But Ben said only one at a time."


    "Yeah. Just... just one. Not three. At once."

    "Sounds good, kid," Shepard whispered, smiling and nodding before putting her hands on Luke's shoulders. "How about you take that coffee and resume sleeping this off, all right...?"

    As he stumbled into the medbay, Chakwas crossed her arms over her chest. "Don't you dare laugh," she scolded Shepard. "Even if it is funny. What did you do to the poor boy?"

    "Nothing!" Shepard said defensively, her voice its normal level now that the medbay doors were closed. "I just set him up with a couple of asari. And no, he didn't get into any ryncol or anything, I gave strict orders to the bartender to keep him on tequila sunrises!"

    "That's the problem, I think, Shepard. You know... one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor?"

    "Oh... yeah." Shepard grimaced as Chakwas shook her head. "I guess that would be the problem."

    "Just hope he hasn't inherited his father's liver," Garrus joked, grinning.

    "What? Why?"

    "I'm pretty sure that if he has Vader's liver, it's about to crawl out of his body and start plotting its revenge on you."

    "Well, if I'm strangled by a rogue organ, you'll be the first to know, Garrus..."
  21. Harpalyce

    Harpalyce Jedi Knight star 3

    Jun 19, 2010
    ((Don't worry little fanfic, I haven't been neglecting you I promise!))


    "Patching you through, Commander."

    Shepard had taken the time to have a second cup of coffee and a long shower, besides polishing up her armor, before finally stepping into the conference room. It was nearly lunchtime, but she was content to make the Illusive Man wait. She had even pulled away part of her armor to show off the new tattoo on her upper arm - the orange-black spire of the Omega 4 relay, emblazoned with the motto SEMPER FI. There were still the occasional scabs of blood flecking off of it. After all, the tattoo was that fresh.

    "Shepard." Even though it was all by hologram, Shepard still reflexively squinted as a tendril of smoke floated up and around the Illusive Man's face. He was looking smug, calm and collected as always. "Good to see you."

    "I thought we weren't on speaking terms," she said, eyeing him closely.

    A thin smile cracked at the edge of his lips. "Don't worry. Your message was received loud and clear, and you're not here to be a Cerberus lackey. It was your decision to destroy the base, and I respect that."

    "Uh-huh. So, is this a social call...?"

    "I have good news for you, and an offer to make. We're in a unique situation to help one another. Miranda has been telling me about Vader's son." There was a tense note to his voice that made Shepard smile. Miranda, his most loyal assistant, was purposefully holding information back from him - and under Shepard's orders. "Ever since recovering Vader's ship, I've thrown all resources possible into reverse-engineering the process that brought him here. They've managed to develop a slingshot-like method. The... details are complicated. It's not his specialty but I'll be happy to forward the details to Professor Mordin and any other crew members you would like."

    "Yeah. Go ahead and send it on." Never mind Shepard had slept through most of her theoretical astrophysics class.

    "As we speak..." The Illusive Man took another drag of his cigarette, drawing a glowing line in the air as he gestured. "This technology is being refined. In short, it should be possible to return Vader's son to where he came from. I'm sure you see the opportunity here, Shepard."

    She chewed momentarily on the inside of her cheek. "I see where you're going to try and take advantage of me."

    He gestured widely. "A favor for a favor. It's that simple. Once first contact is made, Cerberus will be happy to send over supplies to promote good relations. I'll let the scientists and priests speculate what it means to find another universe of genetically baseline humans, but you know as well as I do: Cerberus is here to promote humanity's interests."

    "Yeah, yeah. I get it. But you know I'm not stupid. No blank checks."

    "Not even to make it up to Vader's son, stranded so far from home?" Shepard's mouth drew into a thin frown, and her nostrils flared. He had a point, and he knew that he had struck a nerve. It was a momentary power play, and the Illusive Man quickly gave her a smile. "I'm not asking for the world. Merely to let the supplies show up with Cerberus' compliments, and perhaps a little help with a developing situation on Aite with an experimental VI. A day's work, with your level of efficiency. And trust me, Aite's quite beautiful." Despite everything, his smile was still charming.

    Shepard breathed out slowly through her nose. "And this technology... when it gets to me, it'll be thoroughly tested? Not just theoretical?"

    "Of course. You're far from expendable, Shepard. The cruisers and frigates will take the largest amount of time to retrofit, but a modified Yukon-type shuttle will be available around the same time Vader's own ship will be finished. A little larger than a Kodiak. More heavily fortified. Combat-ready, of course, and with the resources to handle a copy of EDI's subroutines."

    "And I get to name it. Once it's in my hands, it's my ship."

    "I would expect nothing less, Shepard."

    Slowly, she hung her head, closing her eyes, and drew in a deep breath. "All right, all right. ...Deal."


    The atmosphere at lunch was still pleasantly relaxed. With fresh supplies from Nos Astra easily available, Mess Sergeant Gardner had outdone himself. Chicken carbonara with Asari allium-sprouts. Bacon and cheddar quiche. Bluefruit cobbler, served with ice cream. Coffee so fresh she could still smell where he had ground it this morning. It was glorious and Shepard was looking forward to going back for seconds and thirds and then complaining about her armor being tight around her hips. And for once, she didn't have to worry about Garrus sadly poking at a block of dextro gloop while Tali scraped together some sort of paste. Instead the Mass Sergeant had ordered in meals specifically for them of his own accord. Tali was tucked away somewhere, thoroughly delighted. Garrus was slowly savoring a tall thermos of caffeinated drink that smelled somewhat like chai tea, and he waved to Shepard as she came in.

    To her surprise, Skywalker was also sitting at the tables in the mess hall, looking slightly less discombobulated. He was still clutching a cup of coffee meditatively, but at least his eyes were somewhat open. The quiche was the closest thing to hangover food that was available on buffet, but Gardner had fixed him a plate of hashbrowns - at least, Shepard thought there were hashbrowns underneath the cheese, chili, onions, mushrooms and peppers. He had at least moved on from the drunken stage of misery into the greasy food coma option. The fact that he wasn't clutching a toilet in darkness while groaning was quite frankly amazing.

    "Hey, kid." Shepard kept her voice down as she slid into the seat across from him, cup of coffee in hand. He was still bleary-eyed, but he managed to greet her with a smile. "Glad to see you're up."

    "Shepard, I... understand what you were trying to do last night..."

    "Listen, you have every right to be mad at me," Shepard cautioned. "When you're back on your feet, I deserve at least a punch on the shoulder." He laughed and shook his head lightly. "I have two bits of good news for you. Had enough hashbrowns all the way, or you want me to come back later?"

    He gave an amicable chuckle. "I think this is around my fifteenth cup of stimcaf, Shepard. I'm awake enough for good news."

    "Well. First thing. ...about last night. I got a real interesting piece of mail this morning from one of those three... Avie, I think? The top-heavy one. Apparently she was so impressed that she's given you back a full refund. Joked that she should be paying you, even. AndSkye's giving you a half refund, too, said she couldn't charge full price for that much fun." He shook his head, rolling his eyes. "Come on! Two out of three Asari ain't bad..." She couldn't help but laugh. "All right, all right. That's not the good news I actually came to tell you about." Shepard shifted lightly in her seat.

    "I just got through talking with someone, and if all the tech checks out..." She smiled even as she lifted her coffee to her lips. "In a few months, you'll be able to get back home."

    It was an instant transformation: his eyes went wide, and a truly bright smile broke over his face. His excitement was so infectious that the crew in the benches turned to look. Garrus chuckled as Luke half-dove over the table, meeting Shepard halfway in an excited hug. Shepard grinned back at him, and the others in the mess hall picked up on the happiness, relaxing in it, sharing in it. Samara, reclusive as she was, had even been tempted out into the open; by the time Shepard had made her way through the mess line, Luke was excitedly talking to the Justicar, gushing with happiness and relief.

    Shepard slid onto the bench to sit next to Garrus, bumping him hip to hip in a teasing sort of way. They exchanged a glance as Luke's happiness became a small focal point to the others - Jacob and Kasumi joining them to talk, to eat - to share in each other's joy, and each other's company.

    Garrus put a hand around Shepard's waist as they watched. "Pretty good day so far?"

    "Yeah," she said, smiling broadly. "Pretty good day."
  22. Harpalyce

    Harpalyce Jedi Knight star 3

    Jun 19, 2010
    "Got an ETA for me, Joker?"

    "Docked and cleared within the hour. More like forty-five minutes if I drop your name to the right people in the customs queue."

    "Go ahead. It's not like we're exactly subtle, flying in here with the Normandy's new colors." Shepard grinned, putting her hands on her hips. The new coat of paint had made sure that the Normandy was no longer marked as a Cerberus ship. Instead a bright orange-red emblem replaced the Cerberus insignia - a stylized Omega 4 relay - had become Shepard's mark. Slowly, the Normandy was feeling like Shepard's again. New uniforms would be the final touch.

    Not that she would be staying in the Citadel very long. It was the center of the universe, and right now the universe wanted her to be at the very center of its attention. Still. Things had to be done. The Council had to be informed in person. She didn't hold much hope that they would believe her this time, or any time, but... she had to at least try.

    So she stood behind Joker's chair, watching the Citadel grow closer as they came in at impulse. It was a beautiful sight, despite all that had happened to her there, both good and bad.

    "Shepard? Kelly said you were up -" Luke's voice made her turn her head, and he stepped up into the cockpit even as his voice trailed off. "" Shepard watched his face with a grin as his jaw went slack.

    "Welcome to the Citadel, kid. Galaxy's greatest mousetrap, center of the universe, all that and more." She politely waited for a response before waving a hand near his face.

    "Uh, Commander?" Joker looked over his shoulder. "I think you broke him."

    "That's a... that's a space station? It's huge!"

    "The hugest there is," Shepard said cheerfully, patting Luke on the shoulder; fortunately the touch seemed to knock him out of his daze somewhat. "We're all piling out of here for some shore leave. Sensible shore leave, I'm not going to drag you out partying again. You have an account connected to your omnitool, actually - just opened it for you. There's credits in there enough for you to go shopping."

    He shook his head, looking sheepish. "I'm fine, really -"

    "You were too hung over to do any shopping for clothes at Nos Astra, kid. At least go get yourself something other than that one outfit you've worn every single day before it falls apart."

    "And your own pajamas," Joker added bitterly, glaring over his shoulder at Luke and making the other man give a chagrined blush. As much as Joker got along with Luke, there was a special sort of scorn reserved for a man who had to resort to sleeping in sweatpants with holes in them made by another person's butt. Shepard had to bite back laughter.

    "Anyway, it's your cut." Luke looked as if he were about to argue, but Shepard cut him off. "The money's from all the resources we managed to pick up mining, and a few other bits and pieces. Minus the cost of repairs, of course. It's been split evenly throughout the entire crew - and don't even say that you don't deserve it because you weren't there."

    Luke gave a sigh, though it was coupled with a grateful smile. "All right, all right. Just to buy some clothes and necessities, though."

    "And whatever decorations you want for your room. Bunkbed, whatever. Nice sidearm if you like. It's your money. Buy something you actually like, that's what this mad money is for."

    "I'll try," Luke said with a smile, though Shepard had a sneaking suspicion that he would try hard to talk himself into donating anything beyond the essentials to a charity.

    "Honestly, I'm serious, Skywalker. If you don't come back here with at least one tschotske, I'm buying you more whores and tequila..."


    They didn't make their way out of the Normandy as much as a massive pile of crew gushed out as soon as the ship had been cleared for customs and quarantine. Shepard hung back a little to watch everyone depart. Even Samara had come out of her room, expressing a desire to walk around the Presidium gardens, though Shepard suspected it was really to keep an eye on Luke. It was unbecoming to gloat, but so far her plan had worked almost too well. Samara seemed as relieved to have someone to look after as Luke did to have a mentor. It was just that they tended to express this new relationship in ways that Shepard thought were incredibly boring, such as five hour long discussions about the nature of mercy and justice or long sparring sessions using leftover bits of scaffolding pipe as makeshift staves. But at least it was someone who would follow him around the Citadel and make sure he wouldn't get lost.

    "Are you coming?" Garrus prodded her shoulder and she swatted his hand away with a playful grin.

    "Of course I'm coming! All I want is some pad thai from this little place down in Zakera ward." She couldn't help but glance out of the corner of her eye as Skywalker tried not to stare impolitely at the first hanar he saw, and utterly failed. "Maybe go to mass. That'd make my mom happy."

    "I thought one of the benefits of being a lapsed Catholic was you only had to go every couple of years?" Garrus was smiling ever-so-slightly. "So soon after stopping in at the chapel at Omega, too..."

    "There's a big difference between that little chapel and a proper mass with, you know, communion and the Pope and everything. I'll explain it to you sometime. Though trying to figure out what the Archdiocese of Omega would be like is kinda hilarious..."

    It was good to stretch her arms out as she watched her crew and team filter through the C-Sec customs line. Predictably, Luke found himself pulled aside, and Shepard sighed a little before walking over.

    "...I'm sorry, but without proper identification..."

    "Er - it's just that I don't really -"

    "Look, he's not a geth," Shepard griped. "Let him through."

    "Without proper papers, I can't do anything," the security guard said somewhat prissily. "It's a C-Sec matter."

    "I'm Commander Shepard! You know, Spectre, saved everyone about fifteen times over by now...?" The turian guard shook her head. "You can look it up, I do have Spectre status reinstated and I can vouch for this man."

    "...What seems to be the problem?" The doors opened behind the C-Sec officer and Shepard gave a sigh of relief.

    "Captain Bailey! Good to see you. Listen..." Shepard glanced over her shoulder; fortunately Samara was well enough away to not hear the questionable legality that was about to occur. "There's a good reason why the kid doesn't have any documents. Promise. He's one of those, like, neo-amish settlers, you know? We picked him up on a little settlement. He's on his rumspringa."

    "His what?"

    "His rumspringa!" Luke blinked rapidly at Shepard as she put an arm around his shoulders. "Look, it was my word of the day two weeks ago, I've been kinda looking for an excuse to use it. But the point is he's a great kid and I can vouch for him." Bailey looked nearly ready to agree, though his expression was shrewd enough that Shepard continued on, aiming not only to convince him but the turian as well. "Amazing preacher, you'd love him. We had a great mandatory service on the Normandy last Wednesday. Five glorious hours on reconciliation and kindness. You should've been there, you would've loved it."

    Luke had been staring at Shepard warily but seemed to get what she was doing. A knowing smile played on his face for a moment before it was replaced with wide-eyed enthusiasm. "Tonight's service is only going to be three hours, but I've got it all prepared - it's about charity and kindness..."

    "You know, Shepard, I'm pretty sure I can code him in as a guest of a Spectre," Bailey interrupted. "That way nobody from C-Sec will give him flak. It's a temporary pass, but I'll just... go ahead and make it semi-permanent." The Captain waved them through, and Shepard smiled brightly while behind her Garrus stifled a laugh. "Just need your name and if you'll lean in there for the corneal scan..."

    "Luke Skywalker," he said promptly before leaning in to whisper at Shepard. "...I don't really have to start delivering lectures, right?"

    "Not unless you really, really want to. And even then I'm pretty sure I'd cut you off at two hours." She tossed him a wink and he relaxed. A few minutes later and Luke was spinning around the first atrium like a top, already amazed at the Citadel's wealth.

    Garrus stood beside her, watching a moment as Luke politely introduced himself to Avina before apparently reminding himself that she was just a VI. It took a gentle nudge to Shepard's shoulder for her to notice him. "No reporters yet? We're pretty lucky. Better get your pad thai before we're all mobbed with cameras, since I know how much you like interviews -"


    The strident voice was oddly familiar, and made Shepard jump and whirl around to face it far more quickly than Garrus had ever seen before. An older woman was walking towards them, her greying hair in a severe bun, dressed in a well-pressed Alliance Navy uniform. At the recitation of Shepard's full name, all of the crew remaining in the area had turned to look. Garrus' eyes were wide with interest - but Luke was already smiling as if he could innately predict what was about to happen.

    "Hi, Mom."

    The two immediately embraced, Shepard actually lifting her mother up a little in enthusiasm. Even after the hug, Hannah Shepard kept her hands on her daughter's shoulders. "I get to hear you're alive from the tabloids? And after two years! Delia, dear - you could have at least called," she teased, though there was a tremble to her voice of genuine motherly pain.

    "I know, Mom, I know." Shepard gulped a little, dropping her head. "It's just - I didn't want to put you through another funeral if this Omega 4 thing went badly, and it looked like it was going to go really badly." For a long moment mother and daughter looked at one another, both on the verge of tears despite the fact that they were smiling.

    "Have you got time to have some dinner, so we can catch up a bit? It's... it's been two years. And you're also looking so thin."

    Shepard paused a moment to wipe at her face before giving her mother another hug, this time more gentle than the first. Out of worry, she turned her head to see what the group behind her was doing. Most of the crew were dispersing; Kenneth and Gabby seemed to be getting into another playful argument, Samara was already plotting a route to the Presidium on her omnitool, and Luke had apparently been scooped up along with Jacob and Miranda as a group heading out for shopping. Garrus smiled at her and motioned vaguely to shoo her away, already laying in his own plans to put in a high-res call to Palaven.

    ...Maybe, just maybe, they could all take care of themselves for a little while.

    "Yeah - yeah, dinner would be great. Especially if you're up for some pad thai."
  23. Harpalyce

    Harpalyce Jedi Knight star 3

    Jun 19, 2010
    "Please do not disturb the keepers."

    Shepard turned a moment to glare at the holodisplay of Avina before rolling her eyes. "Anyway, like I was saying... she really wants to meet you. Says she'll get reservations at this place just up there on the spire - it's in the presidium, so you can tell it's fancy - two kitchens, so you'd actually be able to eat."

    Garrus scrunched his nose a little. "You're really sure your mother wants to meet me?"

    "Yeah." Shepard grinned. "We're at the take-you-home-for-dinner stage of our relationship."

    "Right, and that is obviously more scary than facing all the Collectors and Saren and piles of Geth. What do I call her, anyway? Mrs. Commander Shepard?"

    "She'd get a kick outta that. I keep telling her to take that promotion as an Admiral so people can tell us apart."

    "...Please do not disturb the keepers."

    Shepard actually turned to look this time. Avina, for a VI, was starting to become quite annoyed - for perhaps good reason. Luke was crouched beside one of the Presidium's keepers, and had been examining it and waving his hand in front of its face for a good five minutes. Now he had upgraded to poking gently at it.

    "I wouldn't do that, kid. They explode if you poke them too much."

    Skywalker looked up at her worriedly. "Really?"

    "Really really. I don't know why you've been staring at that thing for so long when there's the rest of the Presidium."

    "I'm just trying to figure them out," he said, voice distant even as he stared at the Keeper with furrowed brow. "There's something very... wrong about them, in the Force."

    "Probably because they're genetic constructs made to maintain the Citadel to keep civilizations coming here so that the Reapers can kill them all off."

    Shepard had expected Skywalker to be thoroughly confused, but instead he nodded in agreement. "They do feel a lot like Collectors do." He shook his head. "Sorry. I know that doesn't make sense to you."

    "I'm pretty sure I don't make sense to you half the time." She offered him a hand up from where he was crouching, and he took it with a smile. "Anyway, before I became thoroughly distracted..." She gestured widely. "Here's the Presidium. It's probably where you'll spend most of your time if you come back to the Citadel."

    He laughed. "I told you, my sister's the politician, not me."

    "They roped me in here, kid, anything's possible. There's the tower where the Council usually meets... a lot of this is still under construction from Saren's attack. Still a pretty place, even if the statue of the mass relay is crooked. ...Funny story about that statue, actually." She turned to look at Garrus, obviously waxing nostalgic. "Remember that? I miss the Mako. That was great, except the whole fighting everything and thinking we were about to die along with the rest of the galaxy."

    Garrus started laughing, shaking his head, and Shepard shook her head. "Sorry. Over there are the Consort's chambers. If I had a lot more money and a lot more time I would have gotten you an appointment with her. And there's -"

    Skywalker watched as Shepard's expression immediately hardened. "...Kaidan Alenko."

    From across the way, Tali gave a preemptive wince. The rest of the crew was starting to filter in from their various trips around the Citadel. It took a moment for Garrus and the others to place him, but the haircut was unmistakable, even if he was now in different armor and had different status.

    Luke followed Shepard for a few steps as she began to slowly walk over the bridge to Kaidan, her fists clinched. Fortunately Garrus reached out to put a hand on his shoulder. "You don't want to get in the middle of that."

    Kaidan hadn't yet turned around to see her, but when she spoke, it was in a dull roar that echoed menacingly around the Presidium. "KAIDAN ALENKO. ...Now it's MY TURN."

    He gulped solidly as she stomped up to him, and for a moment everything was still enough to hear her near-tender tone. "Where the hell were you when I needed you?" Almost immediately, that tenderness was gone. "And don't say dead at the time, THAT'S MY EXCUSE."

    Garrus groaned. "This is going to be worse than I thought."

    Skywalker winced before motioning at the two, and looking to Garrus. "Were they...?"

    "Oh yeah. They were, until Shepard got spaced. We saw him on Horizon and he didn't give Shepard much of a chance to explain. Just chewed her out for working with Cerberus."

    "So this is going to be ugly?"

    "Really, really ugly."

    Already the two were in the middle of an argument kept in strangled, whispering tones, trying not to outright shout at one another. Garrus caught a bit of Skywalker's expression. "Yeah, I don't know either whether to break it up or get some bar snacks and sit back to enjoy the show."

    Thankfully it was only a few more minutes before Tali came up behind them, sounding worried. "Garrus? What's going on? Oh... that's..."

    "Staff Lieutenant Alenko, yeah."

    She put her hands on her hips, shaking her head, and Skywalker thought that odds were good she was glaring underneath her helm. "Don't you think you should do something?"

    "I've seen this coming since Horizon. Not a big surprise."

    Skywalker peered more scrutinizingly at the argument. "Garrus? You have plenty of bac-medigel, right? I have a feeling that this is going to end with somebody being hurt."

    It was a perfect situation for a screaming match. Both knew exactly how to press each other's buttons, each bruises on their psyches that were still sore, how to use words to open up the scabs of old emotional wounds. It was no surprise, then, that Alenko's voice was starting to raise. "...So what is it, Cerberus hands you some - some new boytoy -" He gestured widely at Skywalker.

    Luke spluttered, hands going up as he flailed, blushing hard. "Me? Uh - I don't -!"

    "You touch the kid, Alenko, and I will gut you like a fish!" Shepard roared in a sudden burst of maternal fury that slid into snide rage. "Besides, you're wrong. Go one over."

    "...Garrus?" His voice broke a little in surprise.

    "Don't look so shocked, I stand by those who stand by me -"

    "Standing? Standing? Don't tell me you were just standing with a scaly -"

    The rest of Alenko's comment was cut off by a strong right hook from Shepard.

    As he reeled back, it seemed as if the aggressive air had finally broken. Shepard immediately threw her hands up at seeing the blood pouring from Kaidan's nose. "Dammit! Oh dammit - I'm sorry, damn, your nose, I didn't mean -"

    "No - no, it's all right - " Alenko also sounded incredibly sheepish. "I deserved that. I did." He glanced up at Garrus, wincing. "Uh, I didn't mean..."

    Garrus merely threw up his hands with a shrug in apparently the intergalactic symbol for it's ok bro, we're still cool.

    Shepard ran a hand through her short hair, blushing as if only now realizing what a scene they had caused. "Um... how about a drink? We... we should go for a drink."

    "There's this new place by the C-Sec offices?" Kaidan was still trying to blot at his nose, and it already looked like he was going to be wearing a black eye tomorrow despite his application of medigel. "They have about two hundred types of ale on tap - asari, human, turian -"

    "Good cheese sticks?"

    "Excellent cheese sticks," Kaidan promptly answered.

    "Okay. Yeah. That... that sounds good. You lead the way," Shepard said somewhat dizzily, gesturing widely. Tali shook her head, muttering something about how she still had some parts to look for, and Garrus paused, looking back at Luke.

    "You coming, Skywalker?"

    "As long as there aren't any tequila sunrises, sure."

    The pub was a pleasant one - a retired C-Sec officer's dream made reality after some were hesitant to return to the Citadel after the attacks. There were no lapdances or gambling machines, there was no dance floor and pounding music. There was just conversation - and a very large selection of things to drink.

    Skywalker seemed content to try a traditional Earth brew - Guinness - recommended to him by Kaidan as an apparent attempt at making peace. Shepard worked her way through several brews, working on a sampler of Asari summer lagers, and Kaidan was similarly drunk when he turned to view Luke with a skeptical glare.

    "I don't get it," Kaidan confessed.

    "Get what?" Luke had fortunately been pacing himself much more slowly, and was merely tipsy - though he had nearly worked through his third basket of cheese sticks.

    "How you're so..."

    Shepard interrupted. "Cheerful? Calm? Nice? Yeah, that's because his dad was a real bastard and by the time Luke came along there wasn't any bad attitude left."

    "Shepard, that's not quite -"

    "Nnnuh, I met your dad, remember?" Shepard puffed herself up and lowered her voice, scowling as she did her best yet hilariously bad impression. " 'Grr, my name's Vader, I'm going to be all spooky and scare the crap out of your crew and be all pompous with my swishy silly cape thing and make your mission ten thousand times more complicated!' "
    Luke bit his lip, wearing the expression of a man who wanted to laugh but was afraid something terrible would happen if he did.

    "What, too soon?" Shepard said with a grin. Kaidan chuckled, but Garrus seemed far more amused (though distracted by the dextro take-away that delivered to the bar, and his snack which seemed to closely resemble a falafel sandwich).

    "Try me after two more of these," Luke said, returning the smile and lifting his glass.
    Shepard leaned back, looking victorious, before snapping her fingers. "I almost forgot! You remember Wrex, Kaidan?"

    "Who could forget him?"

    As they launched into another long war-story, Luke seemed content to relax. Shepard was quite frankly amazed at his capacity to sit back and listen - or, rather, she couldn't think how she could do the same with her shorter attention span. Perhaps she merely underestimated how much he appreciated the chance to relax and not be a hero or a stranger, but merely someone drinking and eating with the rest.

    "...Hey, speak of the devil! Here's one of the crew. Jacob, Kaidan; Kaidan, Jacob." Shepard smiled as he introduced the two, but Kaidan visibly bristled at seeing the Cerberus logos still on Jacob's uniform.

    Jacob himself tossed Shepard a salute. "I'm sorry this isn't a social call, Commander. Urgent message coming in for you on the Normandy." He looked apologetic. "Something about the Illusive Man calling in that favor."

    Shepard sighed, setting down her glass. "Well, good things can't last forever, I guess." She gestured to the bartender for their bill.

    Kaidan sat still, tapping his half-empty glass. The coldness had crept back into his expression. "You told me you'd stopped being Cerberus' lapdog."

    "I do what I have to," she replied sharply, standing up and brushing herself off before giving him a cutting glare. "I have to cut deals where I can. Not like the Alliance or the Council has been any help."

    There was a long note of silence between them before Shepard turned, again putting on a happy face. "Come on, let's get going. Good things can't last forever..."
  24. Exo-Fat

    Exo-Fat Jedi Youngling

    Aug 18, 2008
    I'd just like to say that this story, and the one before it, are what have brought me back to this site after many years of inactivity. Thank you for writing a story that is not afraid to be lighthearted, and thank you for merging two of my favorite series together.
  25. Harpalyce

    Harpalyce Jedi Knight star 3

    Jun 19, 2010
    Thank you so much for that wonderful compliment, Exo-Fat! :> I'm glad this story was able to bring you back to TF.N!

    Haven't updated in a long while, and I apologize for that: I've been pushing ahead with Masquerade. But after this chapter I should build some momentum again. I'd been putting this off because I wanted to replay this bit of the game, and then didn't have time, and, well, now I've just looked it up on YouTube... oh well.

    Forgive this rushed treatment of the Overlord DLC. I want to get on to Arrival and following plot points. :D


    "Geographic conditions indicate an aesthetically pleasing view nearby. Organic lifeforms may wish to take note."

    Shepard flopped back in her seat with a sigh. "Why does all the bad crap seem to happen on the prettiest planets, Garrus?"

    "Beats me," the Turian half-drawled as he piloted the Firewalker through the lush Aite scenery. In-between the fierce firefights, it was almost a pleasant vacation. Skywalker certainly seemed happy to be off the Normandy, despite the inherent danger. So far Shepard was in a pleasant enough mood to even let Garrus drive... though he had said that after the Mako, she wasn't going to be driving any time soon.

    Skywalker himself was perched by the Firewalker's turret, wearing goggles but otherwise letting the wind play through his hair. Kasumi seemed to be equally relaxed, even as Shepard nudged her shoulder. "Kasumi, think we can go cow-tipping with some of your flashbangs?"

    "Once all the geth are dead? Sure," she replied with a laugh.

    Shepard grinned in reply before reaching back to lightly bop Skywalker on the shin. "You okay back there, kid?"

    "Yeah, I'm fine." He smiled brightly back at Shepard. She had to admit that he seemed far more in his element, now, even if there was a new sidearm at his hip and he was still breaking in the fresh set of armor.

    "Heads up, everyone. Next station just below." The entire attitude of the crew changed, Luke standing up, poised to fire. Garrus readied a hand in warning before the vehicle's engines whirred strongly and the Firewalker hovered before floating down the sheer drop.

    "Commander Shepard, Promethus Station is a crashed geth ship full of dormant machines used in our experiment," the on-ship VI chattered helpfully. For a moment as they landed, everything looked peaceful, even the broken wreckage of the Geth ship. "Scanning area... Analysis: generators are providing power for main shield." The ship was eclipsed in a serene purple bubble.

    Shepard's eyes narrowed as she half stood in her seat, submachine gun in hand mostly out of habit. "Oh, well... that shouldn't be too bad. Right?"

    "Warning: VI infection has assumed control of the Geth cannon."

    A bright targeting reticule flashed underneath them, and Garrus cursed underneath his breath. The vehicle swerved drastically, nearly tossing Luke off the Firewalker entirely. Instead of pointing and aiming at the three generators, Skywalker seemed to pause momentarily in thought before sliding down, letting Kasumi hop up behind the Firewalker's main turret gun. "Hey, woah - Skywalker -" Shepard sat up, clinging to the headrest of her seat. "Where are you - don't try some crazy stunt -"

    "Be right back, Shepard -"

    "Oh no. No, no, don't you run off and try to be a hero on me -"

    His grin was infectious. "Just making things more efficient!" As Garrus was bringing the Firewalker around in a wide swoop, Skywalker neatly launched himself off of it, flipping mid-air, his green lightsaber blade extending with a snap. The targeting reticule of the Geth cannon immediately shifted from the Firewalker, trying to keep up with Luke for just a moment before flashing back to chasing the larger vehicle. Kasumi held fire from the main turret as Shepard continued shouting at Skywalker. Instead of halting, the young man only sped up before launching himself neatly at the first generator. There was a shower of sparks that he dodged by inches - and the generator was down.

    "That sonnova... Garrus! Garrus -" Shepard scrambled into the front seat.

    "Fast as I can, Shepard!"

    Now the cannon's target snapped to chasing at Skywalker's heels. It struggled to keep up as he ran across the rocky moss. Shepard thought she had seen graceful when Vader entered battle - but Luke was much more agile, spinning in circles with his green blade following in wide arcs. While the Firewalker had to dodge and weave, he could simply outrun the cannon's targeting systems. By the time they were even near him, he was at the last generator, leaping on it and burying his lightsaber up to the hilt.

    With the shield down, the cannon was an easy enough target, and Kasumi grinned a little at being able to wield such ordinance - it was a rare treat, after all. Shepard was busy leaning out of the Firewalker, grabbing Skywalker and hauling him back up. Fortunately he had turned his lightsaber off, because Shepard immediately pulled him close into a headlock.

    "Skywalker, you sonnova-Never do that again! NEVER!"

    He flailed as her knuckles dug into his scalp. "Shepard-!"

    "NEVER! You do that again, I swear, I will noogie you to death," she scolded, voice shaking as she calmed, her hand going flat on his skull to ruffle his hair. "You're not here to be a lone hero. You're here to work here as a team. That's an order, Skywalker."

    "Yes'm," he answered promptly before letting his eyes drift sideways. Shepard fortunately didn't realize that she was holding his head right next to her chest. Not that her armor was revealing in any way, but it was still enough to make a hot blush creep up his cheeks and onto his ears.

    Shepard gave a sigh of relief, glad to leave the matter there. It was much more comforting to focus on the battle ahead than to try and tell Skywalker about the promises she had made to keep him safe. Every shot was placed with one watchful eye on Luke even as he seemed to keep one step ahead of the Geth bullets. By the time they were at Atlas station, the cheerful mood had disappeared, replaced by a grim and professional determination. Vader had been, perhaps, somewhat hard to work with - but Skywalker fluidly meshed with the rest of the group, dancing around Kasumi's flashbangs and luring out enemies for Garrus to pick off while Shepard drove the assault forward.

    It was a long trek through the abandoned and bloodied Cerberus facility. After the other two disastrous stations, all of them were simply ready for the fight to be over. The rogue VI screamed at them every step of the way. Luke's usually sunny demeanor clouded, leaving him pawing nervously at his lightsaber like a warhorse chomping at its bit as they took one more elevator ride closer.

    "I have a bad feeling about this," he mumbled distantly.

    Kasumi couldn't help halfway grinning. "You mean, a bad feeling about something other than the fact that we're hunting down a rogue VI that used to be some madman's brother?"

    "Yeah. Exactly." Apparently he either didn't pick up on Kasumi's joking sarcasm, or steadfastly ignored it.

    Shepard led the way, gun drawn and ready to fire, only pausing to stop and play the occasional data log that had been left open. It was a gruesome tale, hearing about Dr. Archer's brother not volunteering, but instead being volunteered. Shepard listened unflinchingly, her mouth drawing into a tight frown as she considered every word. The only thing that saved Luke from being immediately appalled was that most of the jargon went comfortably over his head.

    "All right. Server's through here." Shepard was talking mostly to herself by now. The green entrance interface of the door momentarily flashed in broken, blocky pixels, the VI putting up a fight every step of the way. Although it was merely a computer, they all entered with weapons drawn; Luke's lightsaber cast an eerie green glow in the room. Shepard only let her gun drop to her hip once she was sure the room was safe, reaching out for the console. "Well. Here goes nothing. On your toes, everyone..."

    For a moment the lights dimmed, and Shepard stared at the display, eyebrow furrowing. Then it abruptly burst to life. The blocky face of the rogue VI loomed over them, howling in anger, and the same poisonous green seemed to arc out to Shepard as if her omnitool were a lightning-rod. She stumbled back, sucking a breath in through gritted teeth. Whatever the others were shouting at her was lost as the computerized grid smothered her, latching on as if the VI had become some parasite and she was now infected. She flailed almost as if to shake it off, stumbled back, and finally turned. Garrus was raising his voice, now, ready to take her by the shoulder as she stepped forward and stumbled before recovering, as if she was busy chasing something the rest of them couldn't see. And she took another step forward -

    The doors slammed shut after her.

    Garrus was there immediately, desperately trying to get the doors open, but the security lock was obviously in place. "Shepard! SHEPARD! Damn it - Kasumi -?"

    "Hold on, I'm sure I can find the security override," Kasumi said quickly, fingers dancing over the computer display.

    Luke had been staring at the door with something approaching panic. But while Kasumi tried to tease the doors open, he rammed his lightsaber through them, the metal doors being cut smoothly, though there was only so fast he could go. "Shepard, we're coming!"

    "What the hell just happened?" Garrus wondered, tone obviously anxious. "Did the VI hack into her omnitool?"

    "Maybe - I don't know - " Kasumi shook her head. "It was in her eyes. I've never seen anything like it before."

    "If it found some way to... to get in to how Cerberus rebuilt her..." A chill descended on the room. Luke grunted, forcing the blade through inch by inch to cut through the door.

    "Do you hear that?"

    "Gunshots," Garrus confirmed with a nod. "Skywalker, can't you -"

    "I'm cutting through this as fast as I can," he nearly snapped before taking a deep, calming breath and continuing to force the lightsaber through the heavy metal doors. "Besides, she's Shepard. She can take care of herself."

    "Yeah, we only have to worry if the gunshots abruptly stop," Kasumi muttered darkly. Her fingers still hovered over the console, trying to break the security lock. "Come on, come on... damn."

    Outside there was another fierce howl from the rogue VI. Now there was something mixed with the anger... pain, perhaps?

    "Did I just hear the VI say make it stop?" Kasumi whispered, eyes wide underneath her hood.

    "I think it did," Garrus replied, nodding.

    By now the effort of cutting through the solid metal door was taking its toll, sweat dripping down into Luke's eyes. But there was a strange quality to his expression, as if he could pick up on the anguish that was in the air and was suddenly sympathetic...

    "There!" It was just enough for them to pry the doors open, wiggling out; Garrus twisted his foot in the impossibly small gap but continued on, running with the rest of them. There was a trail of dead Geth, left behind like breadcrumbs, winding through the corridors and empty laboratory rooms.

    They got to the main VI hub just as Shepard was pulling herself out of cover, letting her gun spit out the last spent heatsink. It clattered on the floor, glowing red-hot. She was breathing heavily, obviously tired, but gave all of them a crooked smile as she ran a hand through her hair. "You guys missed all the fun."

    "Shepard -" Garrus was right there beside her, the other two close behind. "Are you sure you're all right?"

    "Yeah! Yeah. I'm good, I'll have Chakwas look me over and Mordin retune my omnitool just in case. But..."

    The green glow obscuring the VI hub gave one last weak crackle. Shepard raised her gun and fired off one last shot, making a cable fray and snap in a shower of sparks. For a moment everyone watched in anxious curiosity as the green panels fell away, shattering almost like glass. There was a tangle of wires, a massive rat's nest of cords, all leading to... in the middle...

    "Oh God," Shepard whispered softly. "That's... that's David."

    Luke had put a hand up to his mouth, looking as if he was about to retch. Kasumi watched him carefully as he took a moment to blink away sympathetic tears. She couldn't see how the Force made this room murky with fear and pain, but she could see how Luke staggered under its influence.

    Gingerly, they stepped forward. The man in the middle of the machinery was crucified on metal. Wires fed into his open mouth and protruded from his body. Silver talons held his eyes wide open, and they could all see as his gaze flicked back and forth in a desperate search. As Shepard stepped forward, he stared her down, pleading instead of demanding as the machinery kept him pinned in place. The remnants of the VI - and the man in the middle of it - finally spoke, the computerized voice tinny as it came through the speakers.

    "Quiet. Please make it stop."

    Shepard gulped solidly, reaching out a hand and raising her voice. "It's all right. You're all right. We're going to get you out of there, and -"

    "Shepard! Please! Wait!" Archer was dashing into the room as fast as he could, Cerberus researcher uniform still miraculously immaculate. He was panting slightly even as he held his hands out to show he was not armed - and that he was pleading with them. "I'm begging you. Don't do anything rash."

    "Rash?" Luke was the one to repeat the word incredulously, turning to face Archer before Shepard could. His lightsaber thrummed in his hand.

    "Rash like turning your own brother into... into some half-Geth abomination, you mean," Shepard continued, picking up where Skywalker left off.

    "I know how this must look, but I never intended him any harm -"

    Again, Luke was the one to step forward, raising his voice. "You never intended him any harm setting him on this torture machine?"

    "Please - you must believe me - it's not like I planned this. Seeing David communicate with the Geth... it all seemed harmless."

    Skywalker pointed accusingly at the tangle of machinery. "That is not harmless."

    "I had no choice!" Archer spluttered. "The Illusive Man doesn't broker failure! Any war we fight with the Geth will be bloody -" Luke took a step forward as Shepard watched, her brow furrowing, and Archer stumbled back. "Yes, lives have been lost. But I won't apologize for radical ideas!"

    "Your brother's never going to be the same, Archer," Shepard said quietly, her voice full of a steely resolve.

    "The damage might not be permanent! He might recover some semblance of mind -" Archer spluttered.

    By now, tears had managed to make their way out of David's eyes, forced open as they were, and were flowing freely down his cheeks. Like a comforting mantra, David's computerized voice spoke again. "Square root of 906.01 equals..."

    Archer didn't finish the equation, mouth drawing into a thin line before he turned to Shepard. "Please. I... I know what I've done to David is unethical. But I don't think you understand the importance of this work. Let me take him. Cerberus can use -"

    Luke's lightsaber lashed out, stopping barely at Archer's throat.

    The researcher looked down with indignant annoyance, face suddenly flushing red in anger. "Will you get that absurd toy out of my -" He reached up as if to grab the blade and shove it away. Unfortunately his hand clenched before he realized the consequences. With a sharp scream, Archer pulled away, his fingers still attached to his hand by mere flaps of skin. He crumpled to the floor, screaming in agony. "Gggahhhhh! My - my hand!"

    "You'll get over it," Luke bit out, his lightsaber blade going to hover near Archer's neck once more.

    Shepard saw how his stance had changed - how the anger had entered his voice. Righteous anger was certainly understandable, even called for. This was a man who had tortured his own brother for a flimsy excuse of scientific progress. Shepard saw how it was very appealing to want to shorten him by about a head. But she also saw how his stance had changed... how he had suddenly started to resemble his father in a way that made her nervous.

    He was about to open his mouth and draw his sword back for one last cutting remark and a final blow when Shepard grabbed him by the shoulder. "Hey - hey. Skywalker." She pulled him back, lowering her voice to murmur at him. "He's not worth it, Luke. Let it go. He's not worth a bullet, and he's not worth your time." She gently squeezed his shoulder as she dragged him back. "I need you to go help Kasumi get David out of that thing. Okay?"

    It took Skywalker a moment to flick the lightsaber off, nodding after a moment as if a spell had finally been broken. "Right. Yeah. You're right, Shepard. Sorry." He gave Archer one last cutting glare before going to Kasumi.

    "Only saying this once, Archer," Shepard said, voice low and menacing. "David is coming with me. Somewhere safe. Somewhere without you. They'll be able to help him at the Grissom Academy. You..." Her pistol hovered at his skull. "Should be very glad that I'm not pressing this trigger." Archer was sucking in deep breaths, shuddering in pain, clutching at his wounded hand. "And the kid's right. You'll get over it." He flinched before Shepard smacked him hard on the side of the head with the butt of his gun, letting hum slump to the ground unconscious.

    She turned just in time to see Luke help guide David down, murmuring to him about how he was going to be all right. Shepard went to stand by Garrus, running a hand through her sweaty hair.

    "Kid does have a way with people," she murmured quietly. "Kind of uncanny." Luke was indeed able to calm down the hysterical man with remarkable skill, using the Force to communicate with David where normally only numbers would make sense to the savant. Either way David's weak cries to make it be quiet finally stopped, lulled into a contented silence.

    "Yeah," Garrus agreed softly. "Kind of uncanny, but I think I like it."