Actions

Work Header

Mass Effect: A Hero Rises

Chapter Text

Immediately upon leaving Feros, spending that morning enjoying breakfast with the colonists before departure, I inputted the destination of Nodacrux into the galaxy map. Joker did come on over comm, asking about Noveria, letting him know we had a couple of other assignments I wanted to deal with first before we headed there.

It would take a couple of days to get there, so on the way, I did my usual rounds. Pressly, who was now my XO, actually stopped me and apologised for his previous comments. He’d read my mission reports that I’d sent to the Alliance and the Council, and regretted what he’d said earlier about the non-humans that were now on board the Normandy. If I didn’t know any better, he’d taken a real shine to Tali, realising how hard her life must have been but she was still infectiously enthusiastic about everything. He also appreciated the help Liara was trying to provide, and had even spoken with our recent recruit, Shiala. “That is one asari with a broken heart,” he said.

“Imagine being chosen as an unwitting sacrifice by the women you have devoted yourself to. Little wonder she’s feeling a little lost. I think joining us will help clear her mind. She now has a mission and objective she can focus on. My only concern is for when we eventually find Benezia.”

“What will you do, sir?”

“I’d like to take her in for questioning. I think Shiala will want vengeance. Then there is Liara. I know their relationship wasn’t great but Benezia is still her mother. Could Liara handle the fact one of us might kill her?”

“A tough decision, Commander.”

“It is. Between you and I, it is one I’m not particularly looking forward to. And, thank you, Pressly.”

“For what, sir?”

“For changing your opinion and admitting it.”

“We never stop learning nor growing as people, sir. I can admit I was wrong.”

Dinner that night was interesting. Feros was the first major mission we’d shared together since Liara had joined up, and I think there was now a real air of comradery being shared by those who joined me on the ground. I noticed Liara spent a lot of time talking with Shiala, perhaps trying to milk her for information, though I didn’t think that would be a problem. Even Wrex and Garrus, a krogan and a turian who had spent a thousand years hating one another, seemed to be getting along, at least a little bit. I think they avoided politics, Wrex sharing stories of his life as a bounty hunter, Garrus of his life on the Citadel.

Alenko slowly opened up about his life, particularly regarding his time at BAaT, and I’ll admit to feeling nothing by sympathy for him. He didn’t want our pity, just understanding as to why he kept most of his history private, though admitted that it felt better getting much of it off his chest with his close companions. Dealing with her own grief, Ashley spoke of her time with the 212 and the friends she had made during her time with them. She met my eyes and smiled as she spoke. I simply hoped those good memories would help her going forward.

We eventually arrived in orbit around Nodacrux, Joker letting me know before we departed that there was a distress beacon, and that he’d drop us as close to it as possible. Piling into the Mako, I knew conditions would be cramped behind me with yet another person, though no-one complained, as I knew no-one would want to be left behind on the ship.

Upon landing on the planet, one would have seen similarities to Earth. Green pastures as far as the eye could see. Mountains that appeared to touch the sky. Fresh water coated as much of the planet as Earth. It looked and sounded idyllic. Of course, appearances can be deceiving and there was a major reason why no colony was established. Apparently the pollen that was spread across the planet could kill any human within seconds without a helmet. As isolated as the planet was, and the impossible conditions to build a colony, it was the perfect place for a secret lab.

Should have known we’d meet more of those creepy green creatures, no doubt the ‘samples’ sent by ExoGeni to Nodacrux being of the Thorian, and I dreaded to think what the former was up to. Any creepers we came across, I just ran over. No point any of us getting out just yet. The surprise was when we found isolated pre-fabricated units, and the creepers seemed to stick around them. I wasn’t the only one thinking some rather horrible thoughts.

“You reckon those were people?” Garrus asked the question we were all thinking.

“What the hell are ExoGeni up to?” Alenko wondered.

“These fuckers are going to pay,” Ashley growled.

I kept my thoughts to myself for now. The distress beacon was coming from the top of a nearby mountain, which required a search of a road leading up. I finally found one that meant a long drive but at least I wasn’t just climbing up a mountain like a madman. More of those creepers were waiting, Garrus lighting them up with the machine gun. Once they were all dead, we piled out.

“Orders, Shepard?” Alenko asked.

“Kill the green creepy things. If we find humans, we’ll find out what they know.”

Entering the facility, we left our helmets on, just in case, and quickly found that the place was crawling with those creepers. With plenty of narrow corridors, we could use those as chokepoints, all of us now armed with shotguns, having learned on Feros that those worked best against them. Biotics also worked against them, Shiala giving us a glimpse of her power, even Liara making comment that I’d made the right choice in accepting her help.

Once I figured that we’d mopped up all the creepers, we searched the facility for anyone left alive. We eventually found a group of scientists in a barricaded back room. They appeared relieved for a moment before they no doubt saw the looks on some of our faces, and the fact we were still armed and didn’t look like putting them away. One of the scientists stepped forward.

“Thank you for responding to the distress beacon. I am Doctor Ross, chief ExoGeni researcher at this facility. I will admit that we have been trapped in this room for days. We were starting to run short of supplies.”

I gave a signal for my colleagues to holster weapons, though no doubt she noticed my shotgun remained out. “I want answers, Doctor Ross.”

“About what?” she asked cautiously.

“I want to know why Thorian creepers have infested this planet. I want to know exactly what ExoGeni are up to on this planet.”

She couldn’t hide the surprise that crossed her face. “The Thorian? You know about it.”

“I know everything that ExoGeni was up to on Feros. What they were doing to the colonists in Zhu’s Hope. Yes, I know all about it, and that’s why it is now dead.” She sighed, and I could see some of the scientists behind her getting nervous. They knew they were either going to be arrested or shot. “Alenko, take the team, secure the other scientists. Doctor Ross and I will be having a conversation.” Gesturing to a nearby crate, she leaned against it as I told her to come clean about everything.

“The creepers here were created using altered samples from the specimens on Feros. We discovered a way to turn them into docile, obedient servants. Everything was going fine until a few days ago. Then all of the creepers suddenly went berserk. Only a handful of us made it back to the safety of this room.” She paused before adding, “I can only assume that you killing the Thorian severed the link they must have shared.”

Glancing at Alenko, I could see them cuffing the rest. One or two were guards, and they were smart enough not to resist. I could see Ashley stalking around, looking very pissed off. I think Shiala would have happily slaughtered them all. “What you’ve done here, Doctor… Were there any human subjects?”

“No. The creepers are not infected humans.”

“That’s something at least.”

“Look… I know what we did was wrong. I’ll admit that. But it’s over now. There’s no sense in reporting this to the authorities, right?” To my amusement, she stepped forward, running a hand down my arm. “Maybe there is some way we could work this out between us.”

I met her eyes and, I’ll admit, nearly laughed in her face. “You’re serious?”

“I know who you are,” she replied before adding quietly, “Commander Shepard. Your reputation precedes you.”

“Then you should know what sort of man I am. I’m certainly not going to be bribed.” I looked her up and down. “Despite the fact part of me would like to fuck your brains out.” I’ll admit, if she was just a regular scientist, I wouldn’t have said no. She was certainly attractive.

“But you won’t?”

I quickly grabbed her wrist and spun her round, leaning her against the crate, pressing against her. Leaning down to her ear, I whispered, “You should be glad I’m not a complete arsehole and thinking of doing something else entirely.” She would have felt the clasps around her wrists. “No, you are simply under arrest, Doctor Ross. Be glad I’m not like most other Spectres. They would have simply put a bullet in your head.” Looking across the room, I located Tali. “Download everything you can find. I want a full report for when I hand her in to the Alliance.”

“Right away, Shepard.”

Once Tali announced she had everything we needed, we escorted the survivors out of the facility and board the Normandy once it was in position. Leaving the scientists in the brig, I headed to the conference room and contacted the Alliance, sending them all the information we could find. Letting them know we had prisoners, they instructed me to head to Arcturus to hand them over.

“Did she hit on you, Shepard?” Wrex asked over dinner later.

“That she did.”

The krogan burst into laughter. “What is it with you and women?”

“No idea, to be honest.”

“Well, for a human, he is rather handsome,” Shiala stated. I just met her eyes and she met mine. She didn’t blush when I met her gaze. In fact, her eyes told me one thing, and one thing only. It was my turn to gulp as there were titters of amusement.

“Where are we heading after Arcturus?” Ashley wondered.

“A planet called Chasca. From the data Tali managed to get for us on Feros, ExoGeni were sending more samples to a facility there, though they were sending them to a group called Cerberus.”

“Heard of them,” Alenko stated, “Some sort of pro-human organisation.”

“They’re terrorists,” Garrus added, “C-Sec have investigated their activities more than once. Could never find concrete evidence they were working on the Citadel, but I always had a… gut feeling they were.”

I nodded my agreement. “That’s what the Alliance think too. They work in the shadows though. Highly secretive. No-one knows much about their organisation at all. Apparently led by someone called the Illusive Man.”

That made Ashley laugh. “Seriously? The Illusive Man?”

Shrugging, I replied. “I don’t think anyone knows who he really is. There are rumours they’ve bought members of the Alliance Parliament and military though. Some even believe the organisation developed from Alliance black operations.”

The group split up after dinner as it was time to finally relax after another hard mission. One or two headed to the med-bay for a quick check up but most headed to their personal quarters or simply straight to bed. Considering we were now on our way to Arcturus, it was a good time to catch up on sleep.

Sitting at my desk in my quarters, the knock on my door wasn’t a real surprise, calling for whoever it was to enter. Shiala wandered in, immediately locking the door once she was inside. Turning my chair to face her, she strode towards me before sitting on my lap, leaning down to kiss me without hesitation. I couldn’t help reply, hands immediately going to her back, running one down to her rather fine arse. Not breaking the kiss, I slowly stood up, feeling her legs wrap around me as I moved us to the bed, gently lying her down as we ended up in the middle.

Finally breaking the kiss, now she started to blush when I looked at her. “Been wanting to do that for a while,” she said quietly.

“Why?”

“You saved me, Shepard. And you believed me. I think anyone else would have just shot me.” She reached up to caress my cheek. “And I wasn’t lying. You are very handsome.”

“Have you ever been with a human?”

“No, though I know all about you.”

“Me human or me Shepard?”

I think she looked away in embarrassment. “Well, both,” she whispered, “I may have done some research.”

I sat up on my knees and looked her over. Her skin colour was different to Liara, more purple than blue. I as aware that asari came in a range of colours, just like humans. I leaned down and grabbed the zip of her leathers, undoing them to free her breasts, which were larger than expected, watching her quickly remove her arms before I undid the zip all the way down to her sex. We quickly removed them from her legs so she was lying naked beneath me.

She was utterly gorgeous. Very fit. I drank her body in and I could see she was now either a little nervous, or a little shy. I leaned down to give her a soft kiss. “For someone so confident when she strode in, Shiala,” I whispered.

“I’ve never been with a human,” she admitted.

“Do you know what we look like underneath our clothes?”

“Only what I’ve seen on the extranet.”

I grabbed her hand and stood her up. She wasn’t tall once out of her clothes, barely as tall as my chin. She took her time undressing me, taking off my coat first as I kicked off my boots and socked. When she helped unbutton my shirt, she ran her hands over my chest and back before resting her hand on my chest. “You feel so warm, Shepard,” she stated with a giggle.

“Well, I suppose that’s a good thing.”

Grasping my belt, she undid that before helping unbutton then unzip my trousers, those falling to the ground, before my underwear also disappeared, so we were now standing together naked. She took a step back to look me up and down. “Very different to asari,” she muttered.

“In a good way, I hope?”

She stepped forward, her hands immediately caressing my body, her eyes looking up to meet mine. “I will admit I’ve always wondered about humans. I know many asari were intrigued by turians when they arrived on the scene, then when the krogan were discovered. But their males are very different to… you. And I will say in a very good way.” I felt her hand grasp my cock. “My god, Shepard…”

“So you’ve never been with someone like me?” She shook her head. “Then I guess we should take our time.” The smile was so heart-warming, I could only return it, leaning down to give her a soft kiss. “Trust me, Shiala, this will be a night to remember for both of us.”

Resting her back on the bed, I leaned down to kiss her but there was no missing the fact she spread her legs wide, so I thought I’d take a chance and gently play with her sex. She was rather wet already, both of us smiling as we continued to kiss, my fingers gently playing with her as she reached down to grab my cock, learning rather quickly not to grab too tightly and jerk it gently to get the required reaction.

“God,” I moaned quietly, needing to break the kiss.

“Shepard,” she breathed.

“I want to taste you,” I whispered. That earned an immediate smile, again quite shy. “What?” I asked gently.

“I thought… I thought you’d just want…” She trailed off, looking away again.

Using a finger, I made her look back into my eyes. “Shiala, trust me on this one. I love doing it.”

After kissing her again, I kissed down her body, first her neck, earning a gasp when I may have given her a gentle bite before moving down her body. Her breasts were perfect, the same colour as her skin, her nipples a darker shade of purple. I definitely spent plenty of time appreciating those with my mouth as I continued to fondle her sex. Feeling her hand run around the back of my head, I knew she was enjoying what I was doing at least, her breathing and the moaning of my name confirming it.

Her body was fantastic, loving kissing down her stomach, flat but not overly toned, no doubting she was athletic and a fellow warrior. I avoided her sex, earning another groan, this time of frustration, kissing down her thighs, before I kissed back up towards her sex. “Please, Shepard,” she whispered.

“Please what?” I asked, placing my head between her legs, making her look down.

Her eyes, when they met mine, were wild with desire and lust. Just the way I liked it. “Please use your mouth on me. I’m going to cum really hard in about two minutes!”

I figured I should stop teasing, so I used my mouth on her, enjoying her taste immediately. I loved eating out any woman I was with, but due to my… tastes… no, that’s the wrong word. Anyway, it was something I didn’t get to do too often until recently. Spreading her legs wider, my mouth and tongue were working overdrive on her pussy, feeling her press down into my mouth, as she begged me to make her cum. The sort of begging that made me even harder as I knew she was completely turned on.

I could have used my fingers, but I didn’t want to. This time, I was going to make her cum with my tongue. I’d teased her enough by now so stated to flick her clit. That earned a loud moan that would have echoed through the ship. She begged me to do it again and again, and I was soon completely focused on that. She came hard a couple of minutes later, the sort of orgasm that caused her thighs to practically clamp my head in place, and if it wasn’t for the fact I could breathe through my nose, I would have suffocated. I didn’t stop either, continuing to please her. I think she wanted me to stop, but before she could ask, her second orgasm followed as quickly as her first finished. I couldn’t help chuckle as she lay back, her thighs continuing to hold me in place.

“Oh goddess, Shepard,” she cried. Her body continued to shake and shudder as I didn’t stop. “Oh goddess…” I think she nearly started to cry. “Please stop. I don’t want you to, but please stop…”

I stopped as soon as she asked, feeling her release my head so I could at least rest on my forearms. She placed her feet on the bed, watching her take in a series of deep breaths before she looked down towards me. Her face said only one thing, kissing up her body, feeling her shudder as I assumed she was still rather sensitive, before I kissed her lips. “How the fuck…” she started to ask.

“Well, you’re not too different to humans regarding that,” I stated. That made her chuckle. “And I think you needed that.”

She blinked rapidly before kissing me hard. “I’ve gone so long without being intimate… I couldn’t as an acolyte. We had to be dedicated to the cause.”

“Is it too much? We can…”

She kissed me again, feeling her arms and legs wrap around me. “No!” she shouted, before she started to giggle. “Oops. I mean…”

“You’ve never been with a man?” She shook her head, again blushing as she looked away. “But you know what happens next?”

Now she met my eyes, a small smile on her face. God, she looked utterly beautiful in that moment. “I know, Shepard,” she whispered, “From the moment you rescued me, it’s all I’ve thought about.” I’m sure my face no doubt showed surprise. “As I said, I’ve done my research. You’re a good man, Shepard. A great man. And that is why I wanted to be here with you right now.”

“Before we…” I sighed. There was no right way to ask the question. Thankfully she saved me, laughing away first.

“It’s just sex, Shepard. That’s all I want right now. We can make love tonight, and tomorrow we continue as before. If you want this to happen again, I certainly won’t complain. I’m not expecting commitment. You have Saren to deal with. I know, once this is over, I will return to Zhu’s Hope. Sex and love can be separated, as I’m sure you know. But there can also be sex and intimacy with affection, that doesn’t need to involve love. Do you know what I mean?”

I kissed her as I placed the head of my cock at her entrance, earning a small gasp. “I know what you mean,” I said softly.

“Once you’re inside me, Shepard, I know I probably won’t want anyone else.”

“But you just said…”

“I know what I said.” She caressed my cheek again. “You saved me,” she whispered before running her hand down to my arse, giving it a squeeze before I gently slid inside her. I took my time giving her my entire length, but once I was buried, she immediately wrapped her legs around me. Resting her head back, she started to giggle again, though I noticed… I leaned down to kiss her cheeks. “It’s okay, Shepard. Just a big moment.”

“Are you okay?” I just didn’t want to even think I’d hurt her.

“Goddess, yes. I’m already wishing we’d discovered you a few thousand years ago!”

That made us both laugh as I gently started to thrust into her. She learned rather quickly what she liked, adjusting her body and also her legs, feeling her hands run up and down my back, appreciating the muscles across my upper back and shoulders. Otherwise, we continued to make out, only breaking apart when we needed to breath, moan or whisper sweet nothings to each other. There was no doubt we already liked each other quite a bit. She was gorgeous, and she’d already told me I was handsome, so it was a good match.

“Shepard,” she breathed as I soon picked up the tempo. I’ll admit, I wasn’t going to last a lot longer. She was rather tight and felt fantastic.

“Shiala, not much longer.”

“I’ve never felt a man cum in me,” she whispered.

That was a suggestion as she wrapped her hands and legs tightly around me. “Hold on,” I stated into her ear, hearing another giggle as I stated to thrust into her harder and faster. Hearing her moan into my ear was a complete turn on, and when I felt her pussy start to squeeze my cock, that was a complete surprise. I never expected…

“Shepard!” she cried, feeling her shudder as she squeezed her arms tighter, “Goddess, how…. How is this…”

“Won’t last…” I started to say.

We both shut up as I was now pounding her as she recovered from her orgasm. I think she was now rather emotional, not crying, but there was no doubting the connection. I breathed her name as I thrust into a final time before unloading. She squeezed me even tighter if possible before I buried myself and rested, Shiala still wrapped tightly to my body though resting hers on the bed. My forearms on the bed, there’s no doubting we were coated in sweat and various other bodily fluids. Feeling her finally release me, I rested on my forearms as our eyes met.

“Is it always like that?” she asked.

I’ll admit to feeling a little embarrassed. I’d certainly made an effort with her. Not to say I didn’t with my lovers, but I wanted her first time to be somewhat memorable. “If you’re with the right lover, every time is great. Just remember, sometimes the sex is enough. It doesn’t need an orgasm to make that connection with someone.” I stopped before adding, “But I love making my partner cum regardless.”

Lying on the bed together, I lay on my side as she spooned into my body, snuggling into me, mentioning we should have a shower soon. I felt rather tired so suggested we should have a shower sooner rather than later. Finding myself dragged into my small bathroom, we cuddled under the hot water. “You make me feel safe already, Shepard,” she said softly, feeling her fingers dig into my back.

“How do you mean?”

“To Benezia, I was always a tool to be used. I could understand why at the time, but even after that, I was never left feeling that she ever cared about any of us. I was left no choice regarding the Thorian. It was simply something I was expected to do. Trust me, it wasn’t a choice. In the past couple of days with you, I already feel that my opinion is validated, that I can tell you what I think or feel, and that you will listen to me, take it into account, before making your decision.”

I lifted her chin so her eyes met mine. “I will never sacrifice you, Shiala,” I whispered earnestly.

That just made her lip quiver before she kissed me with as much passion as I’d ever received, eventually pressing her body against the side of the shower. “I will be by your side until the end,” she whispered upon breaking the kiss, “Until we beat that bastard Saren.”

After drying each other down, which seemed more intimate than anything we’d done before as we spent most of the time kissing and caressing each other, I took her by the hand and led her back to my bed. I’m not sure if she was expecting me to kick her out, but once she rested against my body, I heard her sigh deeply, shuffling back against my body again. “Thank you,” she whispered.

“For what?” I wondered.

“For caring.” I leaned forward to kiss her cheek. I’m sure I heard her sniffle, but I didn’t question. I think everything we’d just shared was a big deal to her. “Shepard?” she whispered a little later.

“Yeah?”

“Can we do this again?”

“Definitely, Shiala.”

I sensed she smiled before I felt her settle down and she fell asleep. I kissed her cheek again before I felt myself relax, continuing to hold her. She was a lovely young woman. I called asari women because, quite frankly, they were, biologically at least. Anyway, we’d made a connection and I’d fight hard to make sure it wasn’t broken.

Waking in the morning, she was still asleep as I kissed her softly on the shoulder before moving up to her cheek. That made her giggle as she swapped onto her other side to kiss me properly. “Well, I don’t mind waking up like that,” she said softly.

“And I don’t mind waking up next to you. But we’d better get up so we can have breakfast.”

“What about…” she started to ask before trailing off.

“Never mind what they think. And I know they will be careful about what they say.”

She got up first, and I watched her put on her leathers. By god, her body was fantastic, and she definitely appreciated me watching. As she put on her boots, I got up and quickly put on my uniform, only a shirt and trousers, plus my boots. Once we were ready, she wandered out first, following her out into the mess. Nearly everyone else was already sitting, eating breakfast, noticing the silence as Shiala walked out first, grabbing a tray, piling up some food, before we joined the others.

No-one said anything for at least a couple of minutes. I simply ate without a care in the world. I could see Shiala was nervous, barely able to eat a bite. I finally reached across to grab her free hand. “We did nothing wrong, Shiala,” I stated, loud enough for everyone to hear. She smiled, but the rapid blinking I think was also a sense of relief.

Wrex simply burst into laughter, slapping the table. “You do work fast, Shepard!”

“Spirits, I wish I had your luck,” Garrus muttered.

“Nothing to do with luck, Garrus. Have you spoken to that doctor since we rescued her?” He shook his head. “Well, I think you might need to.”

“I wouldn’t know what to say.”

“You don’t need to say anything. Just ask her out. If she says yes, fantastic. If she says no, then you move on.”

“So you two…” Liara trailed off, looking between Shiala and I.

“Yes, Liara?” I asked.

“She spent the night in your quarters, Shepard?” Alenko wondered.

“She did. Why are you asking?”

“No reason. Simply curiosity.”

I met everyone else in the eyes. Liara and Ashley simply met mine before looking away, while I think Tali was more amused than anything. “Have a good time?” she finally asked.

“Sure. Sex is always fantastic, Tali.”

“Keelah, can’t wait to find out one day, Shepard!”

Wrex burst into laughter, slapping the table again. “You are going to corrupt at least one woman on this trip, Shepard!”

“Look, I’m trapped in this suit, Wrex. All I can do is simply fantasise about… well, it.”

Wrex stopped laughing and nodded. “I see what you mean, little one.” He paused before asking, “But why stop at just fantasising?”

I thought the question would have made her uncomfortable. Instead, she replied, “While I want to feel the touch of another person, whether quarian, human, asari or otherwise, to just feel that would require… To be honest, I’m not really sure, Wrex. But just exposure to the air you all breathe could cause me to feel seriously ill.”

“Bet you two are jealous,” Garrus stated, no doubt meaning Ashley and Liara. I just groaned as Wrex burst into laughter again. “What? I mean, I’m usually oblivious to most things but even I can see it.”

“Leave it, Garrus,” Liara stated.

“Be glad I don’t have a knife,” Ashley muttered. The eyes of the turian widened and I’m sure he gulped, probably feeling a little fear. “Yeah, that’s right. Something you like would find itself detached.”

“Harsh, Ashley. Harsh, but fair. And fucking funny!” Wrex exclaimed. I couldn’t help chuckle.

“You’re just a bad influence, Wrex!” Tali added with a giggle of her own.

“Looks, I’m the oldest here by a good few hundred years. I’ve seen a lot of shit go down. Watching all this drama play out is simply humorous to someone as old as I am. It’s clear the Commander likes company. And, sorry ladies, but it’s also clear that you all like the Commander. Even you, lady doctor.” I glanced to see Chakwas blush, which was a little surprise. “So while I understand all your rules and regulations, or the fact you’re worried about this or that, let me give you some advice. I’m old enough to have lived through some bad shit. And when something good comes alone, grab onto it and enjoy it. If it happens once, remember that at least it happened. If it happens more than once, then by the gods, hope it happens again and again.” He then looked at me. “Shepard, I’m going to be blunt. There are at least four females at this table who want to fuck you. I could name them, but I’m not a complete arse, so I won’t name them.”

“I don’t think you need to as it’s rather obvious,” Alenko stated, and I heard the humour in his tone, “Got to say, Commander, anyone else would feel put out because of it.”

I shrugged helplessly before clearing my throat, “Um, I think we have a mission or two to worry about.”

“Nice deflection, Shepard, but I know I’m right. You won’t even have to play your cards right. If you wanted, you won’t go to bed alone,” Wrex stated, “Even my little friend wants your company.”

“Wrex!” Tali exclaimed to the amusement of everyone. I glanced her way and she at least met my eyes from behind her mask. She simply shrugged. “I do wonder, Shepard. I can admit it, at least.” She then paused before looking at Shiala. “What was it like?” she asked not so quietly.

“He made me cum really hard,” Shiala replied, Wrex slapping the table as he laughed again, “More than once!”

I finished up my breakfast quickly before standing up and leaving as Shiala thought then would be the best time to go into detail about what we had done. I didn’t blame her. Considering I was her first male, I could understand why. But I felt more than one pair of eyes on my back as I headed back to my quarters.

Thankfully we had a distraction as we found ourselves in the Matano system, looking for the planet of Chasca. It was another ExoGeni lead, and after what we’d found on Nodacrux, I could only imagine what we were going to find on another planet. Considering this Cerberus organisation was also involved, it would either be for better or worse.

Once we reached orbit, the immediate concern was that the colony below appeared to be silent. Normally we’d receive some sort of signal, either simply to communicate with us or we would receive a message or messages about the status of the colony. I felt a chill down my spine, as if the colony was already dead. I ordered everyone to the garage. We probably wouldn’t need a full team, but unless I already knew what was on the ground, I was going to take everyone.

We dropped in the Mako around half an hour later. From what I’d gathered about the world, only sections would ever be inhabitable, the planet being tidally locked to its moon, meaning one side was unbearably hot, the other freezing cold, with only a slither of habitable land. Why anyone would think it was worth actually living on beggared belief.

“I’ve got nothing on comms, Shepard,” Tali reported, “But I have three possibilities. One is to the south, about one click. One to the south, around two. Then a third to the west at around five.”

“Might as well just go with the closest and work our way out. Let’s just be prepared for…” I sighed. “I don’t even want to contemplate to be honest.”

Heading to the first structure to the south, we parked up the Mako and headed inside. It appeared to be some sort of science facility, heading inside to find it infested with husks. As we mowed them down, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to have a bad feeling start to bubble up in their gut. We didn’t find any sort of research station nor terminal we could gather information. Wandering back outside, Ashley grabbed my attention as we noticed the dragons’ teeth, the same we’d seen on Eden Prime. I noticed her shudder. “This is wrong, Shepard,” she muttered.

“We’ll deal with it, Ash,” I assured her.

We headed to the northern structure. Much like the first, it was infested with husks. We already knew how to deal with them by now, but we all realised that by killing them, we were killing what were once humans. And if the nugget in my gut was correct, they used to be colonists. We’d passed more than one pre-fab to realise that some people had been trying to make a life for themselves. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to walk out of the structure a little pissed off.

In silence, we headed to the third and final destination. Approaching it, more husks seemed to swarm towards us. I brought the Mako to a halt, ordering Garrus to open fire as the rest of us piled out. Once the husks were dealt with, I gathered the team. “Tali, Alenko, anyone else with knowledge. Find out anything you can about ExoGeni, Cerberus or whoever else is involved with what’s going on here. I have a bad feeling about what we’re going to find out but… I hope I’m wrong.”

Much like the first two structures, the third was full of husks. But so many more than the first two, I think we almost hesitated killing them by the end. There was nothing that could be done for them, they were already dead, but the dragons’ teeth around told us everything we needed to know. Once the husks were dead, we searched for information, and even I would admit to being shocked when we found clothing. Not just adults, but… children… What were these people capable of?

Ashley found the same, and that’s what made her break, hearing her apologise as she dashed to the exit. Alenko met my eyes, nodded, and followed after her. Garrus walked to my side. “I really didn’t think…”

“Humans can be complete and utter cunts, Garrus. And, to be honest, we love killing each other more than killing others. Have a whole lot of experience in the former.”

“But children?”

“Means nothing to organisations like ExoGeni and Cerberus. All that matters is progress, no matter the cost.”

“So what are you going to do?”

“Report it to the Alliance. But I will be having words with someone we currently hold on the ship.”

That wasn’t the end of it though. I found an office where they had apparently been recording the experiments they’d been carrying out. The Cerberus name and logo was everywhere. No-one was dumb enough to say their name, but it was obvious who they were working for. What I saw was… horrific. In fact, even that doesn’t describe the horror I watched unfold. I waved away anyone else who was even intrigued as to what I watched. I could watch it alone and live with it, knowing I would get vengeance for all those that suffered.

After gathering all the information we could get, including the list of colonists that may have once inhabited the planet, we ended up back on the Normandy, instructing Joker to return us to the Citadel immediately, requesting Alliance representatives meet us there. I was quickly told the Alliance office on the Citadel would help us out regarding any issues going forward.

On our way back to the Citadel, the mess was quiet that evening. Even Wrex didn’t crack many jokes, most heading off by themselves once their trays were cleared. Once I was alone, I requested that Doctor Ross be brought to the interrogation room for questioning. I waited for her arrival, two guards bringing her in, placing her in the seat opposite, before I dismissed them. She appeared to be in good health though no doubt intrigued as to why she’d been summoned.

“Just visited a rather interesting world,” I stated.

“Which one?”

“Little planet by the name of Chasca. Ever heard of it?” She said nothing. I knew she’d probably heard of it. It might have been operated by Cerberus, but ExoGeni’s name was all over it too. “Deny it all you want but I doubt you didn’t know what was going on.”

“Cerberus?” she asked quietly.

I slapped the table with my palm. “What do you know?” I shouted.

“Nothing!” she cried.

I stood up, kicking my chair back as I rounded the table. The fear in my eyes… It excited me at that moment. Grabbing her by the collar, I hauled her out of the chair, leaning her back over the table. “Bullshit!” I roared, “People like you always have the fucking answers. All through history, all people like you did deny. ‘Oh, we were only following orders!’ Bullshit!”

“I swear I don’t know!” she whimpered, no doubt now fearing for her life. I held her collar with my left hand as I held her throat with my right. I met her eyes and I could see, almost taste the fear, as I gently squeezed. “Please, Shepard,” she pleaded softly, “I didn’t know… I’m a scientist trying to help humanity, not kill it!”

I squeezed for another couple of seconds before I relented. I placed her back in her seat before placing my left forearm around her neck, holding my right arm in front of her. “I’m going to play you some footage, Ross. Let’s see what you think of it.”

Pressing play, I showed her what we’d found on Chasca. The colonists that were… That were impaled on the spikes. Butchered like they were nothing. Turned into creatures most of us wouldn’t see in our worst nightmares. Men, women and children, all sacrificed in the so-called name of progress. I made her watch until she simply couldn’t take anymore, begging me to stop showing her. “I never did anything like that,” she cried softly between her tears. Part of me empathised and believed her. We hadn’t found anything like that on Nodacrux, but she was still ExoGeni, she was still one of them.

Switching off my omni-tool, she stood up and cried on my shoulder. I wrapped an arm around her waist and simply let her get it off her chest. I believed her now as it was such a genuine reaction. When she finally stopped and she was simply shaking from all the emotion, I gave her a gentle squeeze. I was still human.

“God, I can’t believe…”

“That is the sort of people you work for.”

“I thought we doing good. I thought we were helping our progress. I never believed we would…”

I could hear how heartbroken she was in her tone. I believed showing her that video had broken the trust she may have once had. I leaned back as she did, seeing her look at me with tear stained cheeks. I used a thumb to clear her right cheek. “Work for the Alliance,” I suggested.

“But they don’t… They don’t give the freedom…”

“But look at what happens when left unchecked. The Alliance has their faults, but they would never, and I mean never, sacrifice human lives like you’ve just seen. Can you look at yourself in the mirror again if you were to work for ExoGeni?” She shook her head. I leaned against the desk. “I’ll make you a deal, Ross. I’ve already figured out you’re quite intelligent. So if you give me your word that you’ll assist the Alliance, I’ll see what I can do about getting some of the charges dropped.”

“You’re serious?”

“All you need do is write a confession plus cutting all ties with ExoGeni.”

“They’ll send people after me.”

“So I’ll protect you.”

That earned a smile. “You can’t protect me all the time.”

“Perhaps not. But the reaction you just had told me everything I need to know about you. You’re not evil, perhaps misguided. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I believe you intended good, you just underestimated the people you worked for.”

She took a few moments before taking a deep breath. “Okay, Shepard, you have a deal.”

“Good. Want a better night’s sleep?” She looked up quizzically. “You can take a bunk if you want.”

“What about the others?”

“Honestly, I don’t give a shit about them. Worthy sacrifices if you work with us.”

She didn’t think before saying, “I can live with that.” I was ready to just leave when she grabbed my hand. “I wasn’t lying about my offer, Shepard.”

“What offer?”

“Before, when we first met. When you thought I was bribing you. I wasn’t lying.”

I looked around before asking, “Are you serious?”

“I still am.” She leaned back in her chair and unzipped the front of her top, showing her rather full chest. Her skin was pale but unblemished. “I’m just wondering if you’re interested.”

I picked her up and swung her around so she sat on the table, immediately kissing her, feeling her hands fumble at my belt and trousers as I returned the favour. My trousers dropped rather quickly, as did my underwear, feeling her fingers wrap around my cock. “My god, Shepard, how big are you?”

“Big enough,” I muttered, before resuming the kiss.

Once I had her trousers and panties removed, I started to feel her up, only slightly surprised she was already wet, feeling and hearing her moan into my mouth as I wasted little time lining my cock up with her entrance. Breaking the kiss, she rested her forehead against mine. “Just fuck me, Shepard. That’s all I want.”

“Someone’s eager,” I retorted with a chuckle.

“Trust me, I didn’t get fucked working with them. It’s been a long time.”

“Someone as cute as you, should be a crime.”

“Doesn’t help that most of the scientists I work with are either dickless, figuratively speaking, or certainly lack compared to someone like you.”

I gently slid my cock inside her, feeling her legs wrap around me once I’d buried myself. Then I fucked her, the doctor holding on for dear life as I pounded her pussy for all I was worth. Our lips rarely parted, left feeling she was needing some sort of human connection as we coupled, whenever not kissing, our heads always touching, our eyes rarely looking away.

"They have camera’s in here?” she asked.

“Yep.”

She smiled. “So someone will be watching?”

“Probably, but I don’t give a shit. I’m the CO. What are they going to do?”

I licked my thumb and moved it down her body so I could gently play with her clit. That gained the desired reaction, her mouth now desperate for mine, simply to stifle her moans, feeling her pussy clinch my cock. We were both now rather turned on, racing towards our orgasm. I wanted to make her cum first. I’d walked in thinking, if this happened, I’d have just fucked her and been done with it, but after our conversation, I now wanted us both to enjoy it.

“Fuck, Shepard,” she moaned loudly upon breaking the kiss.

“Having fun?”

“God, I’m going to cum so hard in a second.”

“Loving my cock?”

“I haven’t had one this long and thick in… forever.” She looped both her arms around my neck. “Fuck me harder.”

So that’s what I did, really giving it to her in addition to fondling her clit. She lasted a couple of minutes at most before she came. And I mean she came hard, the sort of orgasm that leaves a woman a sweaty, quivering mess, unable to put together a sentence, nor stand up straight as their legs would probably give out. She begged me to keep fucking her though, holding onto my body until I finally finished inside her, so we rested against each other, breathing deeply, unable to do anything else as we’d probably collapse if we tried.

“Well, glad we did that,” she finally muttered.

“You and me both. Though you were rather attractive at the start, except for the whole… you know…”

I pulled out, surprised when she gently pushed me back and dropped to the floor, taking my cock in her mouth, looking up at me. She smiled as she said, “As I said, Commander, I’m very appreciative.”

“I won’t cum again anytime soon.”

“Oh, I’m just cleaning you up before you escort me out of here.” And that’s what she did, standing up a couple of minutes later as we made ourselves presentable. I escorted her to the door, knocking on it, the two guards opening it seconds later.

“Doctor Ross is no longer a prisoner. She is to be treated as part of the crew until our arrival on the Citadel. Understood?”

“Yes, sir.”

Before she left, I had to ask, “After all that, I don’t even know your first name.”

She offered her hand. “My name is Natasha, Commander.”

“Well, I think I should say that, after everything, it’s been nice to make your acquaintance, Natasha.”

“Yours too, Shepard. And I must ask that you don’t remain a stranger once you’ve handed me over.”

“Next time, I’ll get you completely naked.”

“Next time?”

I couldn’t help smirk. “Well, if you don’t want…”

She grabbed my collar and dragged me down to kiss her, feeling a hand wrap around the back of my head. Her tongue explored my mouth, pressing her against the door, hearing her whimper before we finally broke apart. “You’d better visit me, Shepard. And I want an entire night with you next time. If you’d like that…”

“If it starts off with a kiss like that.”

She smiled before I opened the door. “I’ll come grab you before we make the Citadel, keep you separate from the others.”

“Thank you for trusting in me, Shepard.”

“Just don’t disappoint me, Natasha.”

“I won’t. I give you my word on that.”

Arriving at the Citadel the next day, I’d already received plenty of questions as to why she was had been allowed out of her cell and uncuffed. I’d keep most if to myself until I was standing in front of a pair of Alliance representatives. “This is Doctor Natasha Ross. While she was arrested on the planet of Nodacrux, she is willing to work for the Alliance in trade for any information she can provide in regards to ExoGeni and Cerberus.”

“Is that correct, Doctor Ross?” one of the reps asked.

“What Commander Shepard says is correct. I am willing to work with the Alliance, in particular in regard to the avenues of research I may have been involved in.” She looked at me. “Though I will admit we may have travelled down avenues that even I can admit I was uncomfortable doing.”

“Very well. Commander Shepard, the other scientists?”

“They are to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

“Very well. Doctor Ross, you can come with us for now. We have plenty of our own questions we would like to ask before letting you loose in any of our facilities. Commander Shepard, can we expect your report soon?”

“Already on its way.”

“Thank you. Doctor Ross…”

She looked back at me with a smile before the two reps escorted her away. My team was gathered around watching. Only when she was out of earshot did Wrex ask, or stated, “Bloody hell, Shepard, you didn’t fuck her too, did you?”

I couldn’t help laugh away as we walked off towards the Wards.