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Mass Effect: A Hero Rises

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After dropping Helena off on the Citadel, writing her a letter supporting whatever she wanted to do, suggesting she approach the Alliance. She thanked me for believing in her, sharing a last kiss on the docks, before she disappeared into the crowd. She was one of those women that I knew I’d see again in the future. We were like moths to a flame.

We were now on our way to Noveria after all the delays we’d experienced. Still no idea what had become of Saren. The fact all had gone quiet should have been a concern, but I was left thinking if he’d managed to find the Conduit and achieve what he wanted, the galaxy would know about it. So I still lived in hope that, once we sorted out the issues on Noveria, we’d find evidence of where Saren was.

On route, I sat down with Liara to discuss her relationship with Benezia, and also just to reassure her that her place in my team wasn’t in dispute, and I would trust her to make the right choice if we did meet her mother, whether on Noveria or if we met her at a later date. I think my reassurance certainly helped make her feel a little better about things, though she did ask, “What will you do if we were to find her?”

“I haven’t made that choice yet. If she forces my hand, I have no orders to bring her in alive. If she proves to be co-operative, then I’ll admit I don’t particularly want to kill her if we don’t need to.” She sighed with relief. “I’m not a complete bastard, Liara.”

Her face fell. “Oh no, Shepard, I didn’t mean…” She noticed the smirk on my face, now recognising I was joking.

“Look, I know I’ve probably done one or two things that would concern a few people, but I’ll put it like this. If I think someone deserves to die, they’re going to die. Haliat definitely deserved to die. I don’t particularly believe in summary justice, playing the role of judge, jury and executioner, but I will admit that being a Spectre has given me a certain freedom. So Haliat was always going to die, and one or two others we’ve met so far, putting a bullet in them was the easiest way to deal with it.”

“You’ve also done many good things from what I’ve seen,” she stated with a small smile.

“Well, as I said, I’m not a complete bastard.”

That made her giggle. “Can I ask… a favour?” I knew what she was going to ask, but I nodded for her to continue. “When we finally confront my mother… If I can’t save her, I want to be the one to do it.” That definitely made my eyes widen in surprise. “She is my mother, Shepard. And if she must die, I want it to be at my hand.”

“If that’s the case, you cannot hesitate, Liara. If I give the order, it must be done immediately.”

“I understand, Shepard.”

“But we don’t know where she is, so for now, just keep it in the back of your mind. Let’s just focus on Noveria and whatever is going on there.”

“Of course, Shepard.”

Entering orbit around Noveria, everyone had the specs of the planet. Home to numerous research stations. Completely snowbound and practically frozen. Completely uninhabitable, a good reason to do some rather interesting research. Given the secretive nature of what occurred on the planet, visitors were rarely if ever allowed. However, being a Spectre granted certain privileges. I could go where I wanted, though only within reason.

On approach, Joker was hailed by Noveria traffic control, warning us our ship was being tracked by defence systems and to immediately state the reason of our business. Placing a hand on his shoulder, I replied. “This is Commander Shepard, Alliance Navy and Council Spectre. My presence has been authorised as per the agreement between the local authority and the Citadel Council. However, I will add, should you not permit my docking on your planet, I will return with an entire Alliance fleet, and that will only lead to further complications for yourself.”

There was silence for at least a minute as I ordered Joker to keep on our approach. If they dared fire…

“Your docking has been authorised, Commander Shepard. Standard docking procedures apply, proceed to bay five. Security will process you on arrival to check your credentials.”

“Understood.”

My team was already standing by the door to leave, so once Joker had the ship in position, the docking bay arm attaching itself, I didn’t have to give any orders now. My team know what was required and expected of them. I just figured the mission was going to be a complete pain in the arse, considering our arrival.

Stepping off the Normandy, even with our armour, you could feel the cold seep through. Taking the lead, no-one was armed just yet, not wanting to get into a fight straight away. I was expecting a welcoming committee, not surprised we found one waiting for us only a few metres away from the ship. There was at least half a dozen, two human females, couple of turians, even a couple of salarians. The one in charge, an Asian woman I assumed from appearance, asked us to stop. “This is an unscheduled arrival. I need your credentials.”

“You first.”

“We’re the law here. Show some respect,” the blonde next to her spat.

I smirked as I met her eyes. She was an angry young thing. “Respect is earned, not given.”

The one who asked for our credentials ignored her colleague, returning a brief nod. “Very well. I am Captain Maeko Matsuo, Elanus Risk Control Services.”

“What do you reckon, LT? I outrank her?” I asked.

“Well, it would depend on which rank you chose to use, Commander. Using your Alliance rank, I’m not sure. But considering you’re a Spectre, you pretty much outrank everyone on this planet.”

“Thanks, LT.” Looking back at the captain, I said, “That suffice?”

She smirked, realising the game I was playing. “I’m sorry, but I cannot allow your entry without confirming your identity. Sergeant Starling, secure their weapons.”

“You’re not seriously that stupid, are you?” I asked, obviously rhetorical, as the six of them soon had more weapons aimed at them before they’d managed to do anything. “Look, I don’t care who you are or what rules you have. I’m not giving you my gun. Or guns.”

“They’ll only be prying them from my cold, dead hands,” Wrex muttered.

“Looks like we have a stand-off,” Matsuo stated, “As I cannot let you proceed.”

Before it descended into a firefight… In fact, it would have been murder, since only the two turians had managed to draw their weapons, a frantic voice soon echoed over the comm. “Captain Matsuo, stand down! We have confirmed their identity. Spectres are authorised to carry their weapons here, Captain.”

I noticed the deep breath Matsuo took. “You may proceed, Spectre,” she said, a small bow of her head, “I hope the rest of your visit will be less confrontational. Parasini-san will meet you upstairs.”

“Best behave yourself,” her blonde colleague warned. I just gave her another smile, laced with no end of sarcasm, which caused her face to fall further.

“Okay, the blonde is a mega bitch,” Ashley muttered, to the amusement of the others.

We wandered inside and could see the wealth and technology on display. I would have called some of the design and features on display brash, even ostentatious, and this was just the reception area. God knows what the rest of the place would look like.

Walking through the security area, alarms starting to ring and I wasn’t the only one to groan. Thankfully they stopped blaring within a couple of seconds, as a very attractive brunette appeared from a back room on the opposite side of the desk. “Apologies for the introduction, Commander. Welcome to Port Hanshan. I am Gianna Parasini, assistant to Administrator Anoleis. I hope you won’t judge us in regards to your… introduction at the docking bay.”

Italian, definitely Italian blood was flowing through her veins. Her skin colour alone spoke volumes. She had dark hair, dark eyes and… She was definitely of Italian heritage; her accent didn’t particularly give any indication of where she was from, so heritage, not actually from the Mediterranean. And I knew I was staring, as she started to… not look uncomfortable, I’d never made a woman feel that, but I was probably staring. “Um, no problem, Miss Parasini,” I finally managed to get out of my mouth.

“One of my roles is to generally meet any arrivals, Commander. What brings you to Noveria?”

“What’s with the friendly welcome?” I wondered, “I mean, I’m used to being shot at, but this was something else.”

“The Executive Board does everything in its power to protect the privacy of our client corporations.”

Stepping forward to lean across the desk, leaning forward as she did the same. “Gianna, though I appreciate that, considering what I’m here to investigate, I may ruffle some feathers.”

“Just… Be careful, Shepard…” I noticed the immediate use of my name. I managed to hide the smile. “Our lawyers are… Well, you’ll need a team of asari lawyers just to deal with the paperwork.”

“Only one other question, then I’ll move on.” She nodded, so I asked, “Anyone unusual pass through recently?”

“Hmmm. Depends on what you mean by unusual. We were visited by an asari matriarch a few days ago. Introduced herself as Lady Benezia.”

“Benezia?” Liara asked, immediately stepping next to me, “She’s here?”

“We need to speak with her, Miss…”

“Please, call me Gianna, Shepard.”

I heard Wrex start to laugh behind me at the tone. I ignored him and her tone for now. “Gianna, has Lady Benezia departed Noveria?”

“As far as I’m aware, no. Lady Benezia left for Peak 15 research complex quite a while ago now and, to the best of my knowledge, she is still there.”

“How do I get to Peak 15?”

She looked around before leaning forward again, gesturing for me to lean closer. “You will need the administrator’s approval to gain clearance, Shepard. And, trust me on this one, he’s an arsehole. He won’t co-operate. That’s all I can tell you for now. If you need anything else, I’ll be outside his office. Take my warning. Be careful. It’s the wild west out here.” Then she leaned back, gave me a smile, before turning and walked away. I definitely watched her. That arse was on fire, the dress highlighting all those Italian curves.

“Shepard?” Alenko asked.

“Huh?” Even he chuckled to himself as I turned around. “Oh, right… Ummm….” I glanced at Liara, who looked like her entire world had fallen apart. “Liara?”

“I can’t believe she’s here, Shepard.” Meeting my eyes, she was pleading with me to do… something. I’m not sure what, but…

For once, I couldn’t find the words, but I knew what to do. Stepping forward, I gave her a hug, feeling her hug me back straight away. “I trust you,” I whispered, feeling her squeeze me tight upon those words.

“I just want to speak with her, Shepard,” she said quietly, “See if I can reach her. I know in her heart she still loves me.”

“I certainly won’t leave you behind, Liara. Your place is alongside the rest of us.”

She leaned back to smile at me, before leaning up to give me a soft kiss on the lips. She’d never kissed me before. “Thank you for believing.” We looked at each other in silence before Garrus cleared his throat.

“This is nice and all, but we have places to investigate, people to kill…”

“Oh, look at Captain Awkward get all smart now,” I retorted.

“Hey, that’s not…” The turian trailed off. “Damn it, Shepard. Captain Awkward now?”

“I love you really, Garrus. As for the rest of you, we’ll do what we normally do, but I have a feeling we will be watched like hawks.”

“What’s a hawk?” Tali asked, to the amusement of the humans.

“Are they tasty?” Wrex wondered. That caused further chuckles as we moved ahead.

As we moved on, the team talked amongst themselves as usual, and I heard plenty of teasing about me and Gianna. No surprise as it was obvious I found her attractive. Very attractive. Wrex was blunt as usual, while even the women who’d made it clear they wanted to be intimate with me joked about me wanting to be with another woman. That’s when I turned around and said, “Well, I’ve run up a few numbers already.”

“Good things STDs are mostly a thing of the past, Shepard,” Ashley said.

Wandering around the port, it was obvious there was plenty of money. Crowds of businessmen were hanging around making deals, the three Council races along with plenty of humans in groups, apparently making deals or organising whatever they did on this planet. That’s when I stopped and had the team split up into groups, simply to get the lie of the land and figure out if there was a geth presence, and how we got out of Port Hanshan.

I asked my two asari colleagues to remain with me as the rest disappeared, making a beeline straight for Anoleis, agreeing to meet up in the waiting room outside his office. Gianna was sitting at her desk outside his office, and I noticed the small smile that appeared as I walked towards her. I seemed to have that effect at times. I would use that my advantage if I could.

“Any chance I could speak with Anoleis?” She immediately asked the question, the administrator proving to be somewhat co-operative, allowing me through without question.

The first thing I noticed upon entering was the pair of gun turrets, one to the left, one to the right. I should have expected a salarian, walking slowly ahead, keeping my hands away from my weapons. Didn’t want to give him an excuse. I stood in front of him, Shiala one step behind to the left, Liara to the right.

“Your reputation precedes you, Commander, but I don’t care who you are or where you are from.” I simply smirked as he added, “Only a fool enters negotiation without knowledge of the other party’s tendencies.”

“Negotiation? What are we negotiating?”

He ignored my question. “My greeting is a courtesy only, Commander. I would only co-operate as required by the Executive Board.”

“Friendly bunch, aren’t you?”

He snorted. “We’re not here to make friends, Commander. Businesses come here to avoid the second-guessing of galactic law.”

Now I took a seat opposite him, making sure he looked me in the eyes. I didn’t want to ask about Benezia straight away. I wasn’t sure he would know I knew she was planet side. So I thought I’d throw a curveball. “Do you do business with the disgraced Spectre Saren Arterius?”

“What? Disgraced?”

“Yes, exactly that.”

“He is a major investor in Binary Helix corporation, which is one of Noveria’s backers.”

“Remember that name, Liara.”

“I’m taking down any relevant information as you converse, Shepard.”

“Good. So, Administrator, I believe Lady Benezia is currently planet side. She is a person of interest regarding a current Spectre investigation. Do you know where she is?”

“She arrived a few days ago, accompanied by a personal escort and some cargo. She is up at Peak 15.”

I’m sure the three of us realised that Peak 15 was central to any plans she was involved in, and we definitely had to get there sooner rather than later. But I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be easy as I hoped it would be. The salarian was being co-operative for now but I knew that wasn’t going to last long. As soon as I asked the wrong question, he was going to shut up before telling me to piss off.

I asked a few questions about Benezia and her entourage, but the more questions I asked, the shorter his responses, and I knew his patience was running thin. So was mine, but I needed their co-operation, otherwise I’d just have to start shooting up the place, and I didn’t particularly want to do that just yet. Any request to visit Peak 15 was denied immediately, claiming not only was there a blizzard that would stop us getting there, but that it was private and therefore off-limits. I felt like invoking Spectre authorisation, but I figured if I did that, he’d definitely tell me to piss off.

The one thing he did admit to, which I think he immediately regretted, was that she was here as Saren’s executor and in regards to Binary Helix business. Apparently there were issues at Peak 15 which needed their guidance. No idea what that meant, but it was something to investigate. I wasn’t getting anywhere, so after begrudgingly thanking the administrator, I headed out.

Walking past Gianna, I heard her chuckle to herself. “You’ve never worked in the corporate world, have you, Commander?” Stopping and turning towards her, she was sat at her workstation, though looked up as I approached. “Shepard, you cannot bludgeon your way through bureaucracy.”

“Can’t I just shoot him and be done with it?”

“While you could, it won’t end well for you, Spectre or not.” She leaned forward, gesturing for me to do the same. “Shepard, I have a name. Lorik Qui’in. You’ll find him in the hotel bar.”

“Why?” I asked, a simple question.

“Anoleis isn’t the only one with a pass out of Port Hanshan.”

So I needed a pass to leave? Excellent, and I could have kissed her for the good news. Instead, I thanked her and we headed out, meeting everyone else in the main foyer. Letting me know what they’d discovered, apparently there had been an accident at Peak 15 that was being covered up, and no-one had missed the fact Lady Benezia had arrived, flanked by a near army of asari commandos.

We found Lorik Qui’in in the hotel bar, hearing plenty of comments when we’d entered the reception about spending a night or two in the hotel once we were done on Noveria. I could understand why as just the reception area was gorgeous, another sign of the money on the planet. The bar itself seemed to stock every spirit that could be found across the galaxy, though the beer was standard. Couple of human, turian and asari brands, though some of the most expensive possible.

Lorik was sitting by himself in a corner table, keeping an eye on the patrons but obviously bored and quite clearly on his way to being drunk. He looked up as we approached, and he stared to chuckle. “Well, well, well, the human Spectre decides to come talk to me. What have I done to deserve this?”

Not wanting to waste time, I replied, “I need a garage pass to get out of here towards Peak 15. I’ve been told you could help.”

Lorik gestured for me to take a seat and explained his predicament. He worked for Synthetic Insights but had been accused of corruption by Anoleis. Funnily enough, the administrator had become rather rich himself since he took control of the rents. I wasn’t the only one to think that was one hell of a marvellous coincidence. The good news is that Lorik had evidence of his corruption. The bad news is that the evidence was in his old office, currently under lock and guarded by some of the guards we’d already run into. What he needed was for us to retrieve the evidence and he would then give us a garage pass so we could move on.

“You have a deal,” I stated.

“A word of warning, Commander. Anoleis is paying some of the ERCS guards under the table to help him. Captain Matsuo is not aware. If, or when, it becomes violent, you will need to explain for her to understand what has transpired. I, of course, will help where I can.”

I split the team up again. “Alenko, take Tali and Ashley, keep watch near the office of Anoleis. If he makes a move, let me know. The rest of you are with me. I know something is going to go tits up and would like numbers on my side for now.”

There was an immediate agreement, the rest of us heading upstairs towards Lorik’s office. Inside, we found ERCS guards basically ransacking the place. We were already armed, so when I cleared my throat and turned around, I made a subtle gesture for no-one to fire. Yet.

“Want to explain what you’re doing here?” The four of them shared a glance. “Look, I know you’re here under the orders of Anoleis, so I’ll make this easy for you. If you piss off now, dropping your weapons as you go, I’ll forget I ever saw you here. Don’t do that, and you’ll be leaving in body bags.”

It’s amazing how easily some people will co-operate with you, weapons quickly dropped on the ground, my group standing apart as the four guards walked through, keeping watch until they’d boarded and descended in the elevator.

Four of them chose to leave peacefully. The rest chose to fight. Might have been a dozen of them or so. Even with three colleagues’ downstairs, they were nowhere good enough to take on hardened warriors. We took a lick or two, I won’t deny that. Even guards are somewhat trained and shields can fail. Nothing too concerning, but it was a reminder that bullets can still kill.

After downloading the information required on an OSD, I was hoping we’d be able to just walk out without a hassle, considering the bodies that now lay on the ground around the building. But the blonde woman who had been part of the team that met us after docking was waiting by the elevator, noticing the smirk on her face as we slowly approach her.

“I don’t think you’re supposed to be in here, Shepard.”

“I don’t think you or any of these people were meant to be here either.”

“Are you always a smartarse?”

“When conversing with cunts like you? Definitely. I usually wipe shit like you off the underside of my boot.”

She looked around, no doubt noticing the bodies, betting that most were colleagues, perhaps friends. No wonder her eyes narrowed when she looked back at me. “Anoleis would throw you off world for what you did here. I won’t. You know what we did to cop killers on my world?”

Gesturing around, I retorted, “I hesitate calling any of these arseholes ‘cops’. Seen plenty of dead mercenaries before though. Now I’m getting plenty of reminders.”

“You’re breaking the law for bribe money. You know what we do to dirty cops on my world?” Wrex added, and I knew he was just itching to start blasting.

It wasn’t what I would call a standoff, simply a case of who would blink first. I withdrew my pistol and fired three times. The first two bullet impacted her shields, the first causing them to drop to half, the second causing them to fail. The third entered her forehead, flying out the back of her head, watching her body drop like a stone. “Cunt,” I stated as I slid into cover as my own shields took a couple of hits.

I’ll admit we slaughtered the few guards who were with her. No doubt they were all dirty, so I certainly wasn’t going to lose any sleep over it. They numbered the same as us, but they were out-gunned, out-armoured, and out-smarted. Liara, as desperate as she was to reach Benezia, wasn’t going to throw her life away, and I wasn’t the only one to notice Shiala try and protect her at the same time. I knew Shiala had questions of her own for Benezia, though had kept her own thoughts to herself for now. As for Wrex, finding himself in a small room with enemies, I could hear his laughter over the gunshots, eventually just leaving him to mop up the rest. Having a massive krogan as an ally is a help at times.

Soon as the last body dropped, we made haste and left the office, boarding the elevator and getting as far away as possible. I knew cameras probably saw the whole thing but what would they actually do to a Spectre? I actually welcomed their attempt at trying to make me leave. And if they impounded the Normandy, that would be an effective declaration of war.

Of course, as soon as we left the elevator, I’d expected a whole load of guards. Instead, only Parasini was waiting of us, walking straight towards me. The smirk told me everything. “Commander,” she stated formally, “There have been reports of noise from the Snythetic Insights offices. Would you know anything about it?”

She made a gesture which I understood immediately. “I’m not sure about noise but I think there are a few bodies that need retrieving, Miss Parasini. Seems Port Hanshan is just filled with thugs and criminals.”

She couldn’t help smile before stepping close to me. “Meet me at the hotel bar,” she said quietly, “Before you meet with Qui’in.” Before I could reply, she turned and strode away quickly.

“So, you fucking her next, Shepard?” Wrex asked from behind, to the chuckles of a few others.

“Thinking about it already.”

“Bet you are.”

Heading towards the hotel bar, I gestured for everyone else to make themselves scarce as I walked to the bar first, gambled on what she liked to drink, before approaching her table. She smiled, noticing the glass of wine I brought with me. Sliding the glass over, she grabbed it, though definitely ran her fingers along mine. “I took a guess and figured you would like red.”

“You guessed correctly, Shepard. You’re drinking…?”

“Bourbon on the rocks. Most people like a mixer. All I need is some ice.” We sipped our drinks in silence before I added, “Okay, Gianna. Level with me here. You’re no mere receptionist or assistant. I know someone close to Anoleis might know a bit but you are far too in the know to… you know…”

She couldn’t help the smile. “Gianna Parasini, Noveria Internal Affairs.”

“Internal Affairs? So he is dirty?”

“The Executive Board knows about Anoleis’ corruption. I’ve been undercover for six months.”

“Okay, fair enough. But I’m assuming you wanted to meet with me before I spoke to Lorik for a reason.”

“You assume correctly, Shepard. I want to convince him to testify before the Board. With his evidence, this planet will start turning profits again.”

“I suppose Anoleis keeps himself clean?” She nodded. “Guess someone like him wouldn’t be a complete moron.” She nodded again. “Okay, fair enough. But the reason I’m helping Lorik is…”

She leaned closer, running her fingers over the top of my hand. “Shepard, I know what you need. You help with my investigation, I’ll give you whatever you need. Favour for a favour.”

“But you know what I need so… Once all this is done, dinner and drinks.”

Her laughter caused me to smile. “Had you figured from the moment I laid eyes on you, Shepard.”

“What can I say? My weakness are pretty ladies such as yourself.”

She leaned across the table and kissed my cheek. “You have yourself a date, Commander. As long as you get Lorik to testify.”

“Easy. I’ll go sort it out now.”

Heading upstairs to speak to Qui’in, he was surprisingly easy to convince. Granted, he would have rather avoided a spectacle, but he was chafing at the bit to take down Anoleis, and once I appealed to that turian sense of honour they all had, it didn’t take much for him to agree to terms. I think he agreed with a heavy heart, in the sense he really would have rather done this all under the radar, but as long as he got his job back and Anoleis went down for his crimes, he was happy.

I gathered my team before heading back to Gianna, as I was a little worried Anoleis would go down swinging, or at least firing. He wasn’t a moron, but I figured someone like him wouldn’t like going to prison, nor would he last very long. She was happy to hear the news about Lorik, then slid a hand under her dress to retrieve a small pistol. She definitely did that as it gave me ample opportunity to check out her rather nice legs. She noticed me look at smile. “Want to back me up?”

“God yes,” I replied quietly, taking out my pistol.

Staying close behind her, we entered Anoleis’ office. I thought he would have done something stupid, but Gianna moved fast, rounding his desk and grabbing him by the back of the neck. Reading him his rights, the salarian wouldn’t shut up so I stepped forward and smacked him across the jaw, practically knocking him out. He could still walk but he was rather groggy as Gianna lifted him up.

Cuffing his wrists, we hauled him up and led him outside before Gianna said she’d handle him. “I’ll meet you in a couple of hours, Shepard. Hotel bar?”

“I’ll be waiting.”

“Good. Just need to get this piece of shit processed. It’ll take a while considering the list of crimes he’s committed.”

Once she departed, I turned to my team. Wrex was chuckling to himself, shaking his head. Alenko also had a slight grin on his face. “Okay, we’ve been here nearly all day so no point heading to Peak 15 until tomorrow. As there are no shuttles, we’ll have to secure transport and drive there. Until we leave, you’re free to do what you want.”

“Reckon the Alliance will front a night in the hotel?” Ashley wondered.

“Considering we’re here on a mission of galactic importance, if anyone wants a night in the hotel here, I’ll make sure it’s paid for.”

“And you, Shepard?” Garrus wondered.

“We’ll see how things go, Garrus. We’ll see how things go.”

Most of them headed back to the Normandy to dump their things and change. I did the same thing, though I didn’t have much in the way of casual clothes. Even when back on the Citadel, I generally wore the blues of the Alliance. We all headed back to the hotel bar, most joining me at the bar to start. I noticed Wrex and Alenko disappeared to the lift together, so it was easy to figure out what they were up to.

I took a seat away from the crowd, Gianna strolling in when I was on my second drink. She’d changed into a figure hugging dark dress, with a lot more of her olive skin on show, and she’d definitely fixed her hair. I stood up as she walked towards me, kissing her cheek when she leaned forward. “Love the perfume,” I said, “And you definitely look stunning.”

“And you certainly look rather smart out of your armour, Shepard.”

“Drink?” She nodded as I waved over the waiter, just ordering the bottle instead of a glass. Sitting down, I added, “I haven’t ordered any food yet. I figured you might have a better idea what’s available here.”

“I can recommend one or two things, Shepard, but I’ll be honest. I’ve already eaten. I’m here for another reason.”

“Oh, and that is?”

“Let’s just say I hope you haven’t booked a room tonight. You won’t need it.”

I couldn’t help smile. “So where will I be staying?”

“Well, I’m hoping you will be waking up in my bed tomorrow morning.”

“That quickly?”

It was her turn to chuckle. “Shepard, I knew what you were thinking about me around a minute after you walked into the office.”

“And you?”

“Let’s just say I’ve done some reading since you arrived. Add that to the fact you’re just… Well, I can’t wait to get that shirt off.” I downed my drink, causing her to laugh. “I still have my bottle.”

“I’m sure they’ll let us take it.”

They did, and grabbing her hand, we walked rather quickly towards the row of cabs that took us to the nearby residential complex. Her apartment was nothing special, as she admitted, but I didn’t care about her apartment. Soon as I kicked her apartment door closed, we were all over each other, the kiss we started only stopping so she could place the bottle on the table before we continued, quickly moving into her bedroom as clothing was removed.

Her hands running down my back then my chest, she broke the kiss to state, “Damn, you look after yourself, Shepard.”

“Have to considering the line of work I’m in.”

She quickly found one or two bullet wounds but was smart enough not to ask questions, at least not then in that moment. I ran my hands over her body at the same time, smooth, supple skin that could only be caressed softly and enjoyed. “I take it you approve, Shepard?”

We ended up on her bed, deftly removing her blue bra. Her skin was the same colour, her nipples only slightly darker. My mouth immediately went to one of her nipples, one of her hands running around the back of my head, hearing her gasp as I tugged at it with my teeth before playing with it, switching quickly to her other one, causing her to giggle.

Kissing down her body, I quickly removed her blue panties, always appreciating a woman who wore matching underwear. The fact she’d shaved her pussy was a slight surprise when she spread her legs, and I’ll admit I licked my lips when the light shone on her sex, and it was obvious she was wet. “You look hungry, Shepard,” she whispered, meeting her eyes, wild with lust and desire. I’m sure mine looked the same.

Lowering my mouth, I tasted her for the first time, hearing her gasp when my tongue teased her entrance, before she released a long moan. And that’s all I did. Teased her there, licked her folds, and generally avoided her clit for the time being, only touching that when I knew she was getting close. She seemed to realise what I was doing, simply enjoy eating her out, eventually shuffling back slightly so she was sitting up a little bit, feeling one of her hands caress my head.

“My god, Shepard,” she breathed.

I lifted my head a moment. “Good thing I love doing this, right?”

“All night?” I nodded. “Well, I will want something else later.”

I smiled before lowering my mouth, watching her head roll back as I continued to tease her. Wrapping a hand around on her thighs, I upped the tempo, no longer teasing her, now wanting to bring her to orgasm. Hearing her breathing change, and the number of moans increase, I knew she was slowly approaching an orgasm. When she breathed my name before gasping, I knew she was getting very close. I was now rock hard, and was ready to fuck her, knowing I’d probably last two minutes once I was inside her. But I wanted to make her cum first.

Switching to her clit, that drove her wild, her body bucking against me as she begged me to keep going. I loved it when a woman begged me to keep eating her out, as that told me I was doing something right at least. She started to squeeze my head with her thighs, so I knew she was getting every so close, my hands now wrapped around a thigh each as I was now relentless, mixing up using my tongue on her clit and everywhere else.

She finally cried out and yelled she was cumming, feeling her squeeze my head even tighter as I did not even think about stopping. She yelled, cursed and moaned before she finally relaxed, but if she thought I was done, she was about to find out I wasn’t. She was lying back, her body quivering, finally lifting her head off the pillow. “God, Shepard, are you…” She trailed off as her body shuddered again.

“I’m going to make you beg me to stop,” I said quietly before lowering my mouth again.

“No wonder they all like you,” she moaned as she prepared herself for another one.

She had five before she had to cry enough. You read that right, five. By then, my jaw was beyond aching but it was completely worth it, leaving her a sweaty, tired mess on the bed. Gently kissing up her body, our eyes finally met and she couldn’t help giggle. “I thought you’d just fuck me and go,” she admitted.

“And turn down what I’ve just done? I’d have been a colossal idiot.”

“I’m going to need a few minutes, Shepard. I’m a little worn out.”

“Take your time.”

“You can take your underwear off though.” Once I did that, she exclaimed, “Holy shit!”

“What?”

“I just wasn’t… Damn…” Lying on my side, she turned onto hers to face me. “Five minutes, Shepard. Then you’re fucking me with that thing.” I couldn’t help smirk. “Guess you get compliments?”

“One or two.”

She scoffed. “One or two? The only question I have is if you know how to use it?”

“I like to think I do.” I leaned closer to hear ear. “I love it when a woman rides me.”

“Later,” she whispered back, “I need you to fuck me first. Just… own my pussy, Shepard.”

“I won’t be gentle if you tell me that.”

She grabbed the back of my head, dragging me forward for a kiss. “Oh, I’m telling you to ruin my pussy, Shepard.” I couldn’t help chuckle as I pulled her close, feeling her relax as I held her. “You’re not making this easy, you know…”

“How do you mean?”

“I was just expecting you to fuck me and go, as I said. But you’re being all…” She leaned back. “The guys here are pathetic, Shepard. And I’m not just talking about what’s between your legs. Businessmen are too focused on other things to worry about women. The guards are dickless. Anyone else is just a loser, and I simply don’t do anything with women. Honestly, my vibrator has seen more action than anything since I got here.”

Rolling her onto her back, I gently slid my cock inside her, watching the smile form on her face as I buried myself in one smooth, slow motion. She shuffled underneath me, getting herself comfortable, before she met my eyes. “Okay, I loved what you did earlier but, fucking hell, Shepard…”

“Good?”

That made her laugh. “Good, he asks?!”

So I started out slowly and gently to start, leaning down to kiss her, feeling her hands run up my arms, over my shoulders before her fingers started to dig into my back. She felt wonderful, and part of me didn’t particularly want to pick up the tempo too fast, but I knew I wasn’t going to last long this first time. I did warn her about that, which simply made her giggle, assuring me that she would certainly understand, and we would definitely go again rather quickly. She wasn’t wrong about that.

Lifting herself up, she wrapped her legs around me, leaving them loose so I could still get a good thrust into her. She was quickly begging for it harder and faster. That I could do, amazed that she could so quickly accept what I was giving her, not that I was going to complain. As I said, she felt fantastic.

Within a few minutes, I was warning her I was close. She simply wrapped her arms and legs around me a little tighter. She didn’t need to say anything, her eyes watching mine as I felt my orgasm approach. “Fuck,” I groaned as I started to really pound into her, hearing her breathe my name at the same time. That just turned me on even more. “Oh fucking hell,” I cried out as I buried myself a final time and unloaded inside her.

“Yes, Shepard,” she breathed, feeling her entire body squeeze me all at the same time as I groaned, resting on my forearms in an attempt not to squash her beneath me.

All I could do was concentrate on my breathing and not passing out for a good minute before I met her eyes. The smile on her face spoke volumes, the soft kiss after that even more. Despite the load I’d just dropped, my cock still felt hard as a rock. It was something I’d noticed about myself over the years. I could cum two or three times before it finally softened completely.

“When are you coming back to Noveria?” she finally asked. I couldn’t help chuckle as she kissed me again. “Hey, can’t blame a girl for asking!”

“Not sure when, but if you’re ever in Council space...”

“Might have to make a trip now. Get a nice hotel room of the Presidium. Big bed. Perhaps a large tub. Room service. Sound like something you’d be interested in?”

“Long as you don’t bring a suitcase as you won’t be needing any clothes except when arriving and leaving.”

“Oh, I plan on barely being able to walk out of there if you’re with me, Shepard.”

That made me laugh loudly, finally sliding out of her and lying by her side, feeling her turn onto her side, her hand immediately resting on my chest. “Sounds like you’ll be wearing me out, Gianna.”

She didn’t waste any time sitting up and straddling me, lifting herself up to grab the base of my cock, watching as it disappeared inside her. She leaned forward to give me a soft kiss before very slowly starting to ride me, her eyes only looking into mine. “You should definitely visit me here again,” she whispered.

Running my hands down her back, eventually resting on her firm arse, I could only say, “I’ll see what I can do.”

Watching her ride my cock, eventually sitting back, resting her hands on my chest, she was a goddess, and she definitely loved it as she had another orgasm rather quickly. I’ll be honest, I barely did a thing except provide the dick. I think she was just rather turned on plus, well, I guess it hit the right bits inside her. She enjoyed a second orgasm while riding me quite quickly before she fell forward, now desperate to kiss me, seeing her forehead now shining with sweat, her eyes alive with feelings. “Fuck me,” she moaned.

Grabbing her tightly by the arse, I did exactly as she requested, kissing her hard as I drove my cock up into her. She tried to meet my thrusts to start before eventually giving up, needing to break the kiss as she cried out, “Fuck yes, don’t stop.”

“I’ll go for a while,” I warned.

All she did was reach up to grab the headboard, holding on tightly. “Fuck me, Shepard.”

We fucked like that for a little while, switching my eyes from her face to her body, before I wanted her another way, flipping her onto her back first, before I turned her onto her stomach. She knew what I wanted, immediately getting onto her hands and knees, as I slid my cock back into her. Changing my own position, she looked back and smiled as I started to really drive into her again.

“Oh, I’ll be waking up sore now,” she whispered.

I pounded her like that for a little while before wanting at least a little more intimacy, lifting her up so she rested against me. She loved that, feeling her relax against my chest, her arm curling around so it rested on the back of my head so she could turn to kiss me. “Next time, you can take my arse if you want,” she whispered.

“You like that?”

“If it’s the right man, yes.”

“And I’m the right man?”

“Shepard, I think it’s obvious we like each other.”

I held her tight, one arm around her stomach, the other grabbing her gently by a breast, my lips either on her neck or her mouth. “Definitely like you,” I whispered.

Eventually picking up the tempo, she wanted me to keep hold of her as I orgasmed, so I moved a hand down to fondle her. She couldn’t help giggle at the thought of having yet another orgasm, but when I whispered into her ear that I wanted her to cum again, I heard the catch in her voice when she said she wanted to as well. My touch of her sex was gentle, certainly gentler than how I was fucking her now, assuring her that if she didn’t cum before me, I’d make sure she did.

We didn’t quite cum together. I was first, but after I’d recovered, remaining somewhat hard inside her, I brought her off again. Once she had another orgasm, I sat back on my knees as she rested back against me, holding her in my arms. “Well, definitely made the right choice inviting you back here, Shepard.”

“Glad you did.”

“I think we need a shower.”

“Probably a good idea.”

There was a lot of making out as we showered, and I certainly took my time cleaning her, and she returned the favour. We were in there a long time and it was certainly late by the time we were back in her bed. Spooning against me under the covers, she had me hold her hands in mine, feeling her snuggle back against me. “I’ve been single a long time, Shepard,” she admitted.

“I could ask how or why but… I will admit surprise.”

“It’s the job. I can’t really get close to anyone. So… Guess I’m a bit lonely sometimes.” She paused before adding, “And that just sounds really bad, as if…”

I gave her a gentle squeeze. “I know what you meant, Gianna.”

“I’m just glad we had tonight,” she whispered.

“Me too.”

Woken by faint sunlight the next morning, she immediately turned over to kiss me, running a hand down my cheek, her dark eyes looking into mine, a slight smile in her face. “Can you visit me before you leave Noveria?”

“Absolutely.”

She shuffled forward so I could hold her, running a hand up and down her back. The tough cop act had certainly been left at the door. The only problem I had is she was now one of a number of women I’d been with recently, and I had affection for them all. Not love, not that depth of feeling. But I had really liked nearly all of them.

Having nothing in the house for breakfast, I eventually dressed in the same clothes, Gianna at least being able to put on something different, before we caught a cab back to the hotel. Most of my team was already downstairs enjoying breakfast, so I paid for Gianna and I to join them. None of them were stupid enough to ask questions, though when Wrex and Alenko appeared, I wasn’t the only one to notice the latter was walking funny, and was definitely cautious sitting down.

“Fun night?” Ashley asked.

“Hope you’ll be okay to head out later,” I added.

“I’ll be fine, Commander. Just lingering pain at the moment.”

After breakfast, we had to head back to the Normandy to get ready to leave. I invited Gianna on and showed her around, and she was rather impressed with what I had at my disposal. Once my team was ready, we headed out and back to the garage, which was as far as Gianna could go with us. My team at least gave us a little privacy so I could say goodbye. I took off a glove so I could feel her skin on my palm as I cupped her face. “I enjoyed last night,” I said.

“I want another one like that soon. Be safe, Shepard.”

“I will. Have a reason to return to Port Hanshan. Never thought I’d say that!”

I gave her a gentle kiss before she took a step back. “Just so you know, I now have nothing to do. God knows what my superiors will have me doing next.”

“Want to travel on a spaceship?”

Her jaw dropped. “You’re serious?”

“I am if you’re interested.”

She definitely gave it some thought before she shook her head. “No, I’m a cop, Shepard. The idea of having you around all the time? Definitely like that. But I don’t belong in a warzone. I have a different set of skills.”

“Then I definitely have a reason to return to Port Hanshan.” I gave her a small salute. “I’ll see you soon, Gianna.”

“I’ll hold you to that one, Shepard.”

Heading out into the garage, the team were gathered around a Mako, noticing two of them were parked up. I figured, since there were two there, we’d take both of them. At least it would make our lives a little more comfortable. “Alenko, you take the second Mako. Garrus and Tali with me. Ashley, you go with Alenko as the gunner. Shiala, how are you with…”

“I can do it, Shepard.”

“Liara, you can go with Alenko, Wrex, you come with me. Alenko, all you need do is get to Peak 15 in one piece. No heroics, not if the weather is as bad as they say.”

“Of course, Commander.”

“Okay, let’s head out. With any luck, we’ll arrive in time to catch Benezia and figure out just what the hell is going on.”