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Mass Effect: A Hero Rises

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Garrus wasn’t awake the next morning when I headed down to the mess. I guess it was no surprise. Chakwas explained that surgery had been successful, but she was going to keep him sedated for a little longer to help his wounds as he was going to be in some pain whenever he woke up. Letting me know that she’d call as soon as he either woke up, or she helped wake him up, I headed back into the mess, grabbed a quick bite to eat, before heading upstairs to the CIC.

There were far more messages waiting for me than I expected, from Miranda, from the Illusive Man, from Kelly... I was reading over everything when Kelly appeared next to me, holding a mug in her hands. “Coffee, Commander. Just how you like it.”

“Oh, and how do I like it, Kelly?”

“Two sugars, dash of milk. Nice and dark otherwise.”

“Cerberus knows a lot about me, it seems.”

“I’ve read your file back to front before my arrival on the Normandy, Shepard.”

I tapped my temple. “Getting to know me in here is more important.”

“Oh, I’d like that as well, but reading your file gave me an understanding of who I would be working alongside, at least.”

“Your thoughts so far?”

“The mission will be a success. And I think we’re going to have a lot of fun too.” If there was one thing I knew about Kelly already is that she wasn’t subtle. I glanced at her over the rim of the mug as I took a sip. “Just how you like it?”

“Definitely, Kelly. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, Shepard.” And, with a smile, she turned and headed back to her terminal. I focused on my terminal, but glanced her way every so often. In profile, she was definitely shorter than me, slimmer, quite pale, which was usual for redheads, the word petite is what I would have used to describe her. And, of course, I imagined what she looked like without clothes on.

Miranda arrived mid-morning, wondering when we would head back onto Omega to collect Mordin Solus. “When Garrus is awake.”

“That could be a number of days.”

“Garrus is a tough cookie. He’ll be awake soon enough.”

“Very well. You’re in charge, Commander. Did you enjoy your time off the ship last night?”

Should have known she’d be aware. Probably knew exactly what I’d done as well. I returned a casual shrug. “Yes, I did, Miss Lawson. Got exactly what I needed. I was feeling rather relaxed afterwards and in a much better frame of mind.”

I met her eyes and there was definitely more than one retort forming, but she seemed to flick through various replies before she simply went with, “Glad to hear, Commander. Hopefully that will mean you won’t be distracted when we’re next on Omega.” There was a subtle jab at the fact I’d enjoyed myself in Afterlife, but I guess she wasn’t going to judge me completely.

“I know what I’m doing, Miss Lawson.”

Having not heard from Chakwas by midday, I did head into the armoury to change into armour and grab a weapon, letting Kelly know I was heading onto Omega to do some shopping. When asking what I wanted, I made her laugh when the first thing I said was fish. “What do you want fish for?”

“The fish tank.”

“Oh, I didn’t think you would bother…”

“Well, my desk is nearby, and I guess it would give the cabin some life. It’s rather dull and grey at the moment. Might give it some colour.”

“Do they even have fish on Omega?”

“If not, I’ll buy them somewhere else. Wouldn’t mind one or two others things as well. I think it’s obvious I won’t wear the uniform, Kelly. I’m here for the job only.”

“I understand, Shepard, though I hope you won’t judge us all.”

“Something we can talk about later, Kelly. Your reasons for joining and your opinions on the organisation.”

Another smile, I guess appreciating I wasn’t just going to make a sweeping judgement of them all. “Maybe over that dinner I suggested?”

“Definitely. Perhaps we can organise a night after we’ve left Omega?”

“I’ll put it in your diary. All you need do is confirm it.”

Heading back out in the chaos that was Omega, you didn’t have to look far to see the abject poverty, the desperation, the cruelty on display. Most were doing their best to scratch a living, put food in their stomachs for another day. There appeared to be a section for everything. One area sold food. Another sold clothes. Another sold weapon. And sex was also for sale too. I looked over the weapons and armour, but nothing was appealing, most of it second rate junk. I didn’t miss the fact a couple of quarians were trading, but most shops were run by batarians. And as I was human, I definitely gained their attention.

I did find a place selling fish, so I bought a few there. I also found a place selling ship models. For a laugh, I thought I’d buy a few of them, as I figured it might keep me amused during those nights on the ship I wasn’t getting laid. Which, to be honest, might end up being quite a few. I also purchased some more clothing, jeans, a few shirts, another jacket, and also a pair of comfortable shoes, particularly for when I was back on the Citadel and wanted to wander the Wards in comfort. No idea if or when that would happen, but I wanted to be prepared.

Back on the Normandy, Kelly was certainly amused as I returned with a few bags worth of things, heading straight upstairs to dump the fish in the tank, and I threw everything else onto the desk to sort out later. Having not had lunch, I headed back down to the mess to grab a feed. I’d taken all of three bites when I simply had to place my fork down. “Gardner, are you a chef?”

“If you mean have I been trained, no, Commander. But I can only make meals with what I’ve got. And I’ve barely got the basics here.”

“So Cerberus has enough money for this, that, and the other, but won’t put some tasty food in our mouths and stomachs?”

“That’s exactly right, Commander.”

“Well, that’s something I’ll see rectified immediately. Soldiers already have to put up with enough shit. The one thing they deserve is good food. Chow time is always something the serving man looks forward to.”

“If you can get me quality ingredients, I’m sure I can whip up something much better than the slop I’m currently serving.”

I pushed the tray forward, as I wasn’t going to eat another bite. I headed straight back out into Omega and headed towards the food court. There was a place run by a couple of humans, selling things like hamburgers. The meat looked real enough, probably frozen and shipped from a colony world. But it was meat, and I ordered some fries on the side. I devoured it all in probably five minutes, drinking down the accompanying beer quickly. I then asked if they had a spare box of meat patties and fries I could buy. They led me to a massive freezer room nearby and said I could take my pick. I soon had boxes of all sorts heading to the Normandy, letting Gardner know that it wasn’t quality but it would certainly keep everyone happy for now.

Checking in with Chakwas again, there was no change with Garrus, suggesting that she would slowly wake him up the next morning, so to check in with her then. Letting Miranda know the details, I told her we would go whenever Garrus was capable of heading out, unlikely the day he was woken up but if he had no ill effects, it would be the day after.

“Why not just go in without him, Commander?” she asked.

It was a fair question. “Because that man saved my arse more times than I count. And if we’re heading into a plague zone, I just know it’s going to be overrun with idiots looking to fight. So having a fourth member would be helpful.”

“Okay, another day or two won’t hurt, though just being this close to Omega makes my skin crawl.”

“I’m sure it’s the sort of place you need to warm to.”

She snorted in disbelief, which then made her look away, no doubt surprised at the sound. I laughed to myself as I headed back to my cabin, but after an hour there, I was bored so treated myself to shore leave again. Heading downstairs, I did ask Kelly if the crew was getting time off the ship. “Yes, Shepard. Small groups only, and they are going armed. Cerberus isn’t popular in these parts.”

I held back any sarcastic response, just letting her know I was heading out again. “Want some company this time?”

Looking at me those emerald green eyes of hers, there was only ever going to be one answer, so I said sure, why not. She asked me to wait as she disappeared downstairs, returning ten minutes later in jeans and a tight shirt that showed off her bust, at least. Heading out together, the only place I knew of was Afterlife. She didn’t mind, though we headed to a booth this time instead of sitting at the bar. Ordering our drinks from a scantily clad waitress, the music was pumping and I had a feeling the party never stopped. It was difficult to have a conversation in such an atmosphere but we managed to chat a little bit. Nothing too personal as it simply wasn’t the place.

After a couple of drinks, we were ready to leave as I wanted to be awake the next morning for when Garrus was woken up. Kelly certainly proved to be good company, a natural listener, though her personality was what I would call bubbly. She was gorgeous, of course, and her interest in me was immediate and obvious. I suggested a drink in the lounge, and we sat back together as we stared out the window. If we were not in dock, we would have been staring out into space, at least.

“Shepard, can I ask just one personal question.”

“Sure.”

“Your file did include a list of… partners. You had a few while on the old Normandy. Have you been in contact with any of them?”

“Apart from Tali on Freedom’s Progress, no. None of them probably even know I’m alive.”

“Are you wanting to meet up with them?”

“Sure, though I’m sure most have now moved on with their lives. It’s unlikely we’ll just pick up where we left off.”

“Would you like to?”

“With one or two of them, sure.” I paused before meeting her eyes. “Why are you asking?”

“Mere curiosity, Shepard. You were not exactly subtle when it came to your sexual escapades.”

Shrugging, I retorted, “I had nothing to hide. I like and enjoy sex and variety is the spice of life. And some women like to have sex with me. I’m a serving member of the Alliance. Permanent relationships are difficult at best. So I meet a woman I like, we enjoy a brief romance, I move on.”

“But you did sleep with Alliance personnel?”

“You mean Ashley? Well, yeah, but that was always going to happen. The attraction was immediate, and by the end, we cared little about the rules regarding fraternisation. Liara, Shiala and Benezia weren’t. Nor was Tali.”

“Emily Wong?”

“Oh, I really liked Emily. One of the few women I’ve ever gone back to visit again. We had a lot of fun together.”

“Gianna Parasini?”

I… didn’t have any easy answer for Gianna. Probably the first woman I’d even had close to really deep feelings for since Annie. “She was special,” I finally replied quietly, knowing I couldn’t say too much without it sounding like it had been love.

“Sounds like you really liked her.”

“Ever have someone you just clicked with immediately?” She didn’t nod or shake her head, so I just continued. “Our attraction was instant, but for once, I didn’t just want to know what she looked like naked underneath me. Actually wanted to get to know what made her tick. Met her on Noveria, as you likely know, but when she came to visit me on the Citadel… before I died… Well, we clicked on a whole other level. But she knew I wasn’t going to commit permanently. I think she resigned herself to that fact, at least she did then.”

“You’d like to see her again?”

“I’d like to see all of them again, just to let them know I’m alive.” I finished my glass as I asked, “What about you?”

“A few boyfriends and girlfriends here and there. Nothing that lasted. Work always took me away from where I was living.”

“Single?”

“I’m single, Shepard. Have been for a while now.”

“I find that hard to believe.”

“Well, I don’t date where I work, and as I’m usually on a Cerberus space station, my options are limited to non-existent at best.”

“So it’s been a while then?”

That’s when she met my eyes. “Too long, Shepard.”

I was getting every signal I needed that I could have just picked her up, carried her to my cabin, and we could have fucked until the next morning. But she was a sweet girl, and part of me didn’t want to rush it. But that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to kiss her, which is exactly what I did. Soft at first, but she definitely liked it, and when I introduced my tongue, her glass ended up on the floor as her hands ended up running up and down my back and neck.

Breaking the kiss, her cheeks had definitely turned a colour of red I hadn’t seen before. “Well, that answers that question,” I said softly.

“But…”

“Not tonight, Kelly. No need to rush it, right?”

Exactly the right thing to say as the smile that lit up her face was just beautiful. “No, Shepard. No rush at all.”

Cleaning up the slight mess we made, we headed back out into the mess, where she would go bunk down. We didn’t make a scene by kissing again, simply wishing each other goodnight, before she disappeared to the crew quarters and I headed straight upstairs. I knew there would be cameras and monitors all over the ship, so what just happened would have been watched by someone. I definitely whistled to myself as I wandered back into my cabin, slightly wishing I’d brought her back for company, but I’d made the right choice. After a shower, to cool myself off for various reasons, I laid back on the bed with a pile of datapads, reading over more news, before finally drifting off to sleep.


Chakwas was busy waking up Garrus. Having kept him under, she needed to wake him up as, though he might do it naturally eventually, it was better just getting him up and about. His face still looked terrible as I leaned forward, assessing the damage. Whatever the case, Garrus was a tough bastard. Had proven so on the old Normandy and the fact he’d even survived what happened was a testament to his strength.

“He’ll be awake in a few seconds, Commander.”

It didn’t take long for his eyes to slowly open up, no doubt quickly assessing where he was, what had happened, glancing towards Chakwas, who he would have remembered at least, before he turned to look at me, and that’s when he groaned.

"Shepard, you're not going to lean over and try and kiss me now, are you?"

I couldn’t help chuckle at the comment. "This isn't a fairy tale. I'm not a prince. You certainly are not a princess. And you're just not the sort of dextro I find attractive. Not unless you want me to kiss you, Garrus. But I'm not sure we share that sort of friendship."

Garrus chuckled slightly before he coughed. "Don't make me laugh, Shepard."

"How are you feeling?"

"Like I took a rocket to the face."

"Garrus."

"Yes, Shepard?"

"You did take a rocket to the face."

“You see, that’s the sort of shit that happens to me when I’m around you. Rockets to the face. Shot at constantly. Sentient machines that want to bring doom to the galaxy.”

“Can’t say it wasn’t fun.”

“Yeah, I guess it was most of the time.”

I stood back as he sat up, Chakwas taking one last check of his vitals before he swung his legs around, only then realising he wasn’t in his armour. “Fuck, I feel naked without my armour on. And now you see how bony we are, Shepard.”

“Glad Chakwas at least gave you a gown so we don’t have to see your bony arse, Garrus.”

He laughed again before cursing about making him laugh. “Your armour is in the front batteries,” Chakwas explained, “I had someone put it there.”

“Batteries? You mean this ship has cannons?”

“Proper cannons,” I replied, “No Mako though. Figuring you liked tinkering with things, I thought you might like working on those instead.”

“So this isn’t like the old Normandy then?”

“Far from it. So what you should do is head there, which is just out through the mess, get into your armour, then meet me back in the mess. Hungry? Can he eat anything, Doc?”

“Eating would certainly help,” Chakwas replied, Garrus adding he was starving.

Thanking the doctor again, we headed out together, Garrus half-limping his way up the stairs towards the batteries. While he was gone, I asked Gardner if there was any dextro food, surprised that they were fully stocked. He told me that Cerberus had planned for any eventuality regarding the recruits we would gather, and there was a chance we’d end up with a turian or quarian, depending on circumstances. So when Garrus returned, at least he had something he could eat so we didn’t require a trip back onto Omega.

Heading to the lounge, I grabbed us a few beers and we headed up to my cabin for a private chat. Sitting back, he looked around in amazement, making one or two jokes about it turning into a sex palace. I guess some things are simply not forgotten, no matter how long it’s been.

“So we’re both messed up then,” he finally stated, gesturing at my face.

“Yeah, I wasn’t quite finished. Most of my body is okay, but must have been working on my face still. Don’t worry, you don’t look much better at the moment.”

“Hurts like hell, to be honest.”

“Want anything for it?”

“No. If I feel the pain, I know it’s healing. Been through a hell of a lot worse.”

“Garrus, I’m going to ask this plainly. What the fuck are you doing here?”

“Long story or short?”

“Well, the basics, but I didn’t have you picked as some sort of vigilante.”

Garrus leaned back on his chair, sipping at his beer. “After you died, the Council just wanted everything about the Reapers buried, and that included everyone on your ship. No idea what happened to Ashley, no doubt reassigned. The rest of the Alliance crew likely reassigned. As for the non-alliance, we were told thank you but your services are no longer required.

Headed back to C-Sec, but that was just boring. Far too much red tape. Thought about the Spectre route, but you need to be selected, you don’t apply. Eventually I just got tired of the bullshit on the Citadel, so I told Chloe that I was going to go looking for a new job. Was thinking mercenary work. Take out the trash.”

“Are you still with Chloe?”

“Yes. I send her a message every so often. She knows I’m busy, as is she. A message from her was sometimes the only thing that kept me going when things got touch. Had a small group of us on Omega, taking on the mercenary gangs, trying to keep the people safe. That’s how I ended up with the name Archangel. Guess it was the humans who gave me that.

Anyway, things were going okay. I knew not to take on Aria, but she didn’t care about any war with mercenary gangs. Eliminate one, it just tightened her grip on power. We were making good inroads, taking out operations, making some cash, killing those who deserved it. Then we were betrayed…”

“By who?”

“I have a good idea who, but I still need to investigate, make sure I’m right. Because, if I am, I am going to kill the son of a bitch.” He took another sip of beer. “What about you, Shepard? Whatever is going on here, it can’t be easy.”

“Early days yet, to be honest. Barely been awake a few days. All I can do is make the best of it. After we’re done here, I’m thinking of the Citadel, simply to see what the score is. If I’m proven right, the Council won’t budge and the Alliance won’t co-operate, I’ll simply have to stay with Cerberus to get the job done.”

“You haven’t joined them, have you?”

“Fuck no, but I can understand the question.”

We polished off the beers before heading downstairs again to the mess, as it was probably wise to eat. As Garrus and I hoovered down the food, Miranda wandered out with a datapad, handing it to me. “You may as well go recruit this one if you want to wait to collect Doctor Solus?”

I glanced over the datapad. Well, another visit to Afterlife is on the cards then. Veteran mercenary? No doubt lots of credits, long as he does the job though. “Sure, let me finish this and we’ll head in.”

“Just try not to get into any fights before tomorrow, Commander.”

“Aye-aye, ma’am,” I replied sarcastically. It earned a smirk as she turned and walked away, and I watched every step, because that arse was on fire.

“You’re not seriously…”

“What?”

“Is she your type?”

“Do I even have a type, Garrus? Good looking, great tits, fantastic arse, thighs that could probably crack a coconut.”

“Yes, I think you do have a type. I don’t think she fits the bill at all.”

“No reminders of Ashley? She could be a ballbuster.”

“True, she could be. But in her calmer moments, she was also incredibly sweet, particularly when you were the topic.”

I ignored that last bit. Didn’t need to think about Ashley just yet. “I don’t know her,” I said, gesturing towards where Miranda disappeared, “So I’m not going to judge too soon. I think she’s a loyal, card-carrying member of Cerberus, that’s for sure. But I’ve met people before who have exteriors like her. It’s an armour, a shell they’ve wrapped around themselves. Get rid of that, and you are sometimes pleasantly surprised. Besides, it’s not like you to judge so quickly.”

“I’m on a Cerberus ship with mostly Cerberus personnel, Shepard. Frankly, the only people I’m going to trust are you, the good doctor, and maybe Joker.”

He had a point that I could understand, so I let the topic go. After lunch, we headed upstairs where I could slip on some armour, grabbing a pistol as I didn’t think going fully tooled up was required. Garrus did the same thing, and I swear as we were leaving, Jacob gave a longing look, wanting to be invited. But I didn’t spend personal time with those I didn’t trust, and although I didn’t think he was a fanatic like Miranda, he still wore the symbol.

Garrus admitted he could tell a million and one stories about Omega but knew it would bring down our moods. He said it wasn’t like a horror film, it was generally the desperation of the people who flocked to the station, believing they could strike it rich somehow. Most ended up in little more than grinding poverty, and many were preyed upon mercilessly by the mercenaries that ran parts of the station. As for Aria, he admitted that while she was the crime boss of Omega, she generally didn’t worry about ‘small fry’, but it was obvious she didn’t give a shit about anyone but herself.

With little description available of the mercenary we were looking for, only a name, I asked the barman, and we were immediately pointed in the right direction. The mercenary looked at us approach with his one good eye, a face of scars and battle. His armour, from what I could see, bore no markings or affiliation, but it looked well designed. “You Zaeed Massani?”

“Who’s asking?” he grunted back.

“Name’s Shepard. I believe someone we both know has been in contact.”

“You say your name was Shepard? As in Commander Shepard?” I nodded. “You’re meant to be dead.”

“So I’ve been told.”

“Yeah, I’ve been waiting for you to show up. Sit down, have a beer. Look at the pretty girls.”

I’m never one to refuse the offer of a beer, so Garrus and I slid into the booth alongside him. As we sipped on a beer, I gave him the rundown of the mission, though he was honest and admitted he only cared about the credits. He was getting paid good money to join us, receiving half now, half upon completion of the mission. He asked if I had a ship, I told him about the Normandy, and where he could possibly bunk. He liked isolation, so I suggested one of the lower decks would be what he wanted. Finishing our beers, he said he’d wander over in a couple of hours. Garrus and I headed to the bar, when I felt a hand tap my shoulder, turning to see Tara.

“Fancy meeting you here,” she said with a smile that suggested she wanted to conduct some sort of transaction, “What are you after this evening?”

“Well, I was tempted by a beer. Maybe a dance too?”

“Oh, a dance I can do, Shepard. I assume you want private?” I nodded. She leaned forward, shared a word with the barman, and I was soon led by the head by Tara downstairs, hearing Garrus laugh above the pumping music. Entering a rather small room, she pushed me back onto the comfortable leather chair as she locked the door, turning on music I didn’t expected.

Her striptease was incredibly erotic, needing to adjust my seating position more than once. There was a pole she used half the time, but she eventually ended up sat on my lap without any clothing. She certainly teased me relentlessly, feeling herself grind along my obvious erection. She would tease me further by lowering her mouth to kiss me but then pull away. “I’m enjoying what I can feel, Shepard,” she whispered, before she grabbed my wrists, “And you are definitely allowed to touch.”

My hands were soon all over her body, feeling the smooth skin of her back, the perkiness of her breasts, her flat stomach, her defined legs, even caressing her face. When I moved my hand down between her legs, I thought she was going to stop me, but all she did was kiss me hard and so I took that as an invitation to get her off. She must have been turned on as she eventually had to break the kiss, resting her forehead against mine as she was incredibly wet. “Don’t stop,” she breathed.

I wasn’t planning on it, but when I made her orgasm, she kissed me even harder to cover her cries. She then rested on my lap, a series of deep breaths as her kisses turned soft, her hands on the back of my head, before she moved one down to my trousers, and within seconds, my cock was free so she could slide down it. I lifted myself up so I was a little more comfortable, sliding my jeans down to my knees. “Big tip,” I stated as she leaned back so I could lick her nipples and kiss up and down her body. She was soon riding me hard and fast, trying not to make too much noise, but she was definitely enjoying herself. “Fuck,” I groaned.

“Going to cum?”

“In a minute.”

So she sat me back as she leaned forward, now riding me even faster, her forehead against mine as her eyes focused into mine. My hands were resting on her arse, keeping her steady, as she was definitely riding me to get herself off again. “Hold on,” she breathed.

“Doing my best here!”

I was never going to last forever. She was far too cute, and that pussy was far too tight. I groaned loudly as I felt myself erupt, Tara now riding me with urgency, and I knew she was getting close when she started to make these little moans I remembered from last time. When I felt her squeeze my cock, that’s when I knew she was enjoying another orgasm, eventually collapsing forward with her head on my shoulder. I just wrapped my arms around her, feeling rather good about life once again.

“I was only expecting a dance,” I said with a chuckle.

“You don’t mind?”

“No, because I thoroughly enjoyed our first time.” She leaned back and kissed me again, soft and tender. “That’s a good reason why.”

“How much longer will you be here?”

“Maybe tomorrow night. I’m not sure.”

“Well, depending on what you’re doing…”

“I suppose I could handle another night in Afterlife. Are you talking another dance or…”

“Sex, Shepard. Definitely sex. Another experience like what we shared.”

“Well, I can certainly afford that.”

“Maybe you could pay a little more, stay the night?” That was a surprise and it must have shown. “Look, you’re clearly a good guy. During our entire time, I never felt uneasy and you were polite and even gentlemanly. As I said, most of the time, I feel rather used at the end. You cared about my enjoyment too.”

“I can certainly return for one more time tomorrow night.”

She kissed my cheek and slid off me, laughing away as cum certainly dripped out of her. What surprised me was the fact she then got down on her knees, and with her eyes only ever looking at mine, she sucked my cock for a few minutes, which she said was to clean me up. Damn, what a woman… asari… Whatever! She then packed it away and did up my fly before helping me up. “How much was the dance?” I asked.

“Private dances are fifty creds.”

I sent her a lot more. When she saw it, the smile on her face was worth it. I wasn’t falling for her or anything like that, but she seemed like a nice girl, and I knew how hard life could be on Omega. I remembered my time on the streets and I didn’t know which would be worse. She might have chosen to sell her body, but I wasn’t so sure, but didn’t want to ask either. She hugged and thanked me, and hoped to see me the next evening.

Walking back out to meet Garrus, he took one look at me and burst into laughter again, suggesting I looked smug and that I’d had a lot more than a dance. I wasn’t going to say anything, though Tara appeared behind me, and she looked like an asari who had just been fucked, causing further laughter from Garrus. “Things never change, Shepard.”

“She’s a sweet girl.”

We sat at the bar and enjoyed a few more beers until it was time to get back. Garrus said he was ready to head out the next morning to find Doctor Solus, and that was good enough for me. Heading back to the Normandy, it was later than I thought, as I realised for the first time that the lights were dimmed during the night. Figuring we should probably just to go bed, he took the elevator down first before I headed up to my cabin. I showered again, and I couldn’t the slight grin that remained on my face. Maybe I should ask her to join for entertainment value?

It certainly caused me to chuckle at the reaction of certain people if I were to do it.


Zaeed turned up at the Normandy first thing the next morning, and was ready to join us straight away. Garrus wasn’t one for sympathy, stating he was ready to go at breakfast, though he was soon moaning away as we left the ship about having an on board psychologist, no doubt referring to Kelly. “I don’t like that line of questioning, Shepard.”

“What? Kelly’s sweet.”

“That’s cause you wanna fuck her, Shepard,” Zaeed exclaimed. I guess he had me sussed within a few minutes.

“That’s not the only reason. And Garrus, she just wants to get to know people who are on the ship. She’s not trying to jump you or anything.”

“But you do wanna fuck her, right?” Zaeed asked.

I chanced a glance at Miranda, who tried hard not to look like she was listening, but every single word was being stored for later. I looked back at Zaeed. “I am not one to gossip, Zaeed.”

Garrus muttered something about bullshit. Zaeed muttered something about me definitely wanting to get my dick wet. Jacob chuckled to himself. Miranda was stony silent, as expected. The conversation ceased as we approached the entrance to the quarantined zone. The lone turian guard attempted to stop the five of us from entering, though once I told him we needed to find the doctor, and pretty much threatened to kill him if he didn’t move, he let us in, saying it was ‘our funeral’.

The first thing to assault our senses upon entering the zone was the smell. It was just the dead bodies that lay everywhere. They’d clearly been burning them as well. There were more than a few mutters as we put on our helmets so at least we’d be breathing fresh air, weapons already out. If this was a plague zone, the smart people were locked inside their apartments. Anyone on the streets could be considered either a criminal or just criminally stupid.

Garrus had plenty of information about the area, calling it Gozu District, an area under the control of the Blue Suns. Hearing that name set off a series of expletives from Zaeed, suggesting he had some beef with them, but now wasn’t the time to ask. We walked by the sick and the dying, though was little any of us could really do, and I certainly wasn’t going to go out of my way to help batarians, and I saw a few of them around. I would always blame them for Annie…

When we ran into vorcha instead of blue suns later, even Garrus had to admit surprise. I’d never dealt with vorcha before, so in the middle of a firefight, Garrus explained what they were. Short-lived, stupid, basically pack animals. Nothing redeeming about them whatsoever, so he didn’t believe they were behind the plague at least, but they were clearly making a move against the Blue Suns. Guess the plague is killing everyone.

Searching apartments as we moved, some had been left ransacked by looters, others were locked up tight. We found very few survivors, and those we did, we told them to stay bunkered down for the moment, and made sure their doors were secure before leaving. We did run into a few looters on the way, and I shot them without hesitation. Looters are far down the list of people I actually hate, but considering the people on Omega had nothing, if survivors returned to their few possessions being stolen, then all I could say was fuck looters.

Garrus spent half his time directing us where to go, and the other half helping us shoot either vorcha or Blue Suns mercenaries. Zaeed definitely took delight in every bullet that ended up in the armour or uniform of a Blue Suns mercenary, while I practically forgot Miranda and Jacob were with me half the time. They were assisting where necessary, continuing to prove useful with their biotics. I did use my biotic charge occasionally, but I was still getting used to the idea of being a biotic.

The number of bodies were passed was staggering. The death toll must have easily been in the thousands, and what concerned me was that none of the bodies were human. Turian, batarian, asari, salarians, vorcha. All of them were dying from plague, but not humans. “Cerberus?” I asked myself.

“No, Commander. Definitely not,” Miranda retorted, far harsher than she probably meant, “We are not mass murderers.”

“Read some of the reports from two years ago and tell me the same thing again later,” Garrus stated.

I held up a hand, stopping the argument before it began. “Later. Right now, we need to find the doctor. There’s a sign ahead stating there’s a clinic nearby. Let’s get there, grab the doctor, then you can yell at each other.”

Walking into a reception area, it was emptier than I thought it would be. The receptionist behind the counter was quite obviously exhausted, looking up at us with tired eyes. “We’re here to see Doctor Mordin Solus.”

“You and a million other people.”

“Yeah, we’re not sick so it’s okay. We’re here for another reason.”

“If you’re here to help, then great.” She gestured vaguely, adding, “He’s back there somewhere.”

We walked by a few gurneys on which the sick, dying and dead lay, some already covered with sheets to signify the plague had taken them. We found the doctor in what appeared to be a laboratory, busy running what I assumed were tests, and he barely even looked up as the five of us entered. “Doctor Solus?”

Only now did he look up, immediately suspicious, which I guess I couldn’t blame him. His eyes moved from me to the others quite quickly, then back to me. Walking around the gurney, he then opened him omni-tool to perform a quick scan, moving on to other members of the group. "Hmm. Don't recognise you from area. Too well-armed for refugees. No mercenary uniform. Quarantine still in effect. No, here for something else. Vorcha? Crew to clear them out? Unlikely. Vorcha a symptom, not a cause." The salarian paced to a terminal on the other side of the gurney, typing away as he continued to talk, before he made do with pacing in front of me again, bringing his hand to his near non-existent chin as he thought. "Here for the plague? Investigating possible use as bio-weapon?" I couldn't help but glance at Miranda, something she chose to ignore. "No. Too many guns, not enough data equipment. Soldiers, not scientists."

"Doctor Solus! Mordin. Christ on a bike! Relax. Chill out. Take a damn breath. My name's Shepard, formerly Commander. I've come all the way through this bloody hell-hole to find you. I'm on a mission, probably critical to the survival of the human race, and I need your help."

He was rather perturbed by my request. "Mission? What mission? No. Too busy. Clinic understaffed. Plague spreading too fast. Who sent you?" the last question asked with a certain amount of suspicion. Yep, he's recognised the Cerberus symbols on Miranda and Jacob. This guy is clearly intelligent. No point lying.

“These two,” I said, pointing at Miranda and Jacob, “Are Cerberus. He’s a… turian vigilante…”

“Thanks, Shepard. Nicest thing you’ve ever said about me.”

“And the one in yellow is Zaeed, another mercenary.”

“And who are you with?”

“I am currently unaffiliated.”

“But working alongside Cerberus?”

“For the time being.”

“But Cerberus sent you.” He stopped and took a breath. “Unexpected."

“It’s a long story, Doctor Solus. One I can explain later. Ever heard of the Collectors? They are kidnapping entire human settlements. The Council don't appear to be helping. The Alliance appear unable to stop them. So that leaves us. We're trying to find out why and stop them. And we need your help."

Mordin paced once again as he talked. He was clearly a bundle of nerves. Energy. Something. It was rather amusing as his mind must have moved at a million miles a minute. "Interesting. Plague hitting these slums is engineered. Collectors one of few groups with technology to design it. Our goals may be similar. But must stop plague first."

"How can we help, Mordin?"

The salarian grinned. "Ah, good. Volunteers. Already have cure. Need to distribute it at environmental control centre. Vorcha guarding it. Need to kill them."

“Point us in the right direction and we’ll get the job done.”

Giving Mordin details so we could stay in communication, we headed out of the clinic just as the environmental controls were shut up. Garrus muttered that wasn’t good, and we began to haul arse in the direction Mordin told us to go. We were soon laying waste to what seemed like an army of vorcha. Whatever the case, I was left convinced like Mordin that they couldn’t possibly be behind the plague. They were complete idiots. The five of us quickly figured out to work as a team. I worked at the front, using my biotic change, shotgun continuously blasting. Zaeed worked like how I used to. Jacob and Miranda had obviously worked together before, as they seemed to have telepathic communications. And Garrus was doing his usual from the rear job, watching nearby vorcha lose their heads.

When they started to appear with flamethrowers, we simply hung back and aimed for their fuel packs, causing them to explode, sending flaming bodies flying, the explosions sending other vorcha slamming into walls and crates at the same time. The noise would have been deafening to anyone else but this area seemed to be deserted.

Susceptible to flame as they seemed to be, we all switched our ammo to incendiary and burned the fuckers away. We were not always lucky. Zaeed took a bullet in the shoulder which required a dose of medi-gel immediately and a trip to Chakwas for later. Jacob took one in the leg which simply pissed him off as he had to limp the rest of the way. I had one or two close calls after charging, but usually managed to shoot the enemy before they shot me.

As we moved, we did search for survivors, but there was no-one around. We didn’t even find bodies, assuming they had either been moved by people retrieving, or moved by the vorcha for whatever reason. We did find one survivor, surrounded by three batarians. By the time they noticed us walk into the room, the five of us opened fire, leaving them on the ground as I helped the human to his feet. “Who are you?” I asked.

“Daniel. And you?”

“I’m Shepard. What are you doing out here on your own?”

“I work for Doctor Solus. I’m trying to help the people. Are you here to help too?”

“That we are, kid. We’re going to make sure the spreads.” I thumbed behind us. “It should be safe going back to the lab. Just ignore the bodies. The vorcha got in our way.”

“Sure. Thanks, Shepard.”

We moved on, Garrus knowing exactly where we were, as he seemed to know every inch of the station. He provided a few suggestions as we neared the environmental controls, and it seemed like the vorcha were digging in, as their resistance was heavier the closer we got. They still threw bodies towards us for no reason, forgoing shelter as they ran towards us. Complete idiocy, but it meant they were dying and were not. Continuing to head upstairs, we reached an upper level which Garrus suggested was exactly where we needed to be.

And that’s when we met the first somewhat intelligent vorcha. The thing with language is that we all had a translation implant given to us when we are young so we can understand the languages of the asari, turian etc. But the vorcha were new kids on the block, and not everyone updated their implant. I didn’t quite understand everything the vorcha had to say, but it was enough to suggest they were idiots, and definitely not behind the plague.

"You no come here. We shut down machines, break fans!"

"What's your point?" I asked, almost rhetorically.

"Everyone choke and die! The Collectors make us strong!"

"Guess you were right, Miranda."

"And I thought the Collectors were meant to be intelligent. What the hell do they see in these idiots?" Miranda questioned, more to herself than the rest of us.

"What do the Collectors want?" I asked, wondering if I’d get an honest response.

"Collectors want plague! You work for doctor, turn on machines, put cure in air. We kill you first!"

I shot that vorcha, shot the one next to him, then charged towards the other end, colliding with a third and blasting away a fourth. Once we’d killed all the vorcha present, no real tactics except shoot anything non-human or non-turian, Miranda took the cure and injected it where it needed to be, then we had to get the fans restarted to disperse the cure and make sure the entire zone wasn’t asphyxiated due to lack of oxygen. The vorcha sent piecemeal attacks against us as they restarted, but we wiped the floor with them.

The cure was being dispersed, the fans were back on, the people should now be safe. All in a good day’s work, so we headed back to the lab to collect the doctor. He was still incredibly busy though was pleased to hear our task was successful, checking his omni-tool to take readings. "Environmental systems engaged. Airborne viral levels dropping. Patients improving. Vorcha retreating. Well done, Shepard. Thank you."

“No worries, Doctor. Now, are you ready to join us on the Normandy?”

“Yes. When do you plan on departing?”

“Tomorrow morning.”

“Very well. Let me liaise with Daniel. Good kid, will go far. He can take over running the clinic now that plague is gone. Will join you this evening. Unexpected to be working with Cerberus. Many surprises. But looking forward to it.”

Returning to the Normandy, we’d been gone longer than expected, and the first thing we all needed was refreshment and sustenance, so the other four immediately headed to the mess, as I stopped to speak to Kelly about Mordin’s imminent arrival. I said I would probably not be around to meet him, but she would be happy to show him around the ship, and Garrus would be welcome to join, as I hadn’t exactly given him the grand tour yet.

I headed upstairs for a quick shower and change of clothes before joining the other four in the mess for dinner. It still wasn’t the greatest of food, but Gardner could at least work the grill so the hamburgers were okay. Frozen vegetables are never as nice as fresh, but they’d do as well. But it was still better than the slop he’d been serving before. And one of my vices was chips. Not fries. Proper chips that you get from a fish and chip shop.

Garrus asked if I wanted to sink some beers, but I told him I had something else lined up for my last night on Omega. He knew exactly what I meant, told me to have fun, and Zaeed said he wouldn’t mind a beer. When Jacob asked to join in, Garrus was surprised but said he could join in too. “You not going to join in, Miss Lawson?” I asked once they’d disappeared.

“I have work to do, Commander.”

“You can relax, you know. You don’t have to work all day and night. Chill out for a moment.”

“This mission is far too important for to just ‘chill out’, Commander.”

Figuring I wasn’t going to win, I rose to my feet with a shrug. “Well, do whatever you think is best, Miss Lawson. I’m not going to tell you what to do. But I am going to chill out myself.”

“Never thought you’d be someone that pays for sex, Commander.”

I shrugged again. “You’ve never been in the Alliance. What do you think serving men do half the time they are on furlough? Those who don’t have wives, girlfriends, families, they’ll head somewhere with the sole focus of getting laid. Some will try at a bar. Some will want a sure thing. It’s the oldest job in the galaxy, Miss Lawson. I’m not embarrassed about it, and the girl I have lined up is incredibly sweet.”

“Sounds like you like her, Commander.”

“In the sense that I’ve had a good time twice and will have a good third and last time? Yes. But I’m not dumb enough to have feelings for someone in her profession because that would just be stupid on my part. She might even like me as a person, but in the end, it’s physical.”

Miranda rose to her feet. “Well, we could stand here and discuss the philosophy behind it, but I have work to do. Enjoy your night, Commander.”

“I plan on it.”

She scoffed as she turned around, definitely watching that arse disappear again before I headed to the elevator. Kelly was still at her station, waiting for Mordin to arrive. I certainly wasn’t going to tell her what I was up to, so wished her goodnight, and headed back to the airlock.

Tara was definitely waiting for me to arrive, as she was sat in the entrance hallway instead of the club itself. Though surprised to see her there, she stopped me and suggested we head straight to her apartment. That was a good idea so she grabbed my hand and led us back the other way. Once inside, she asked if I wanted a drink first, which seemed like another good idea, taking a seat on the only lounge as she poured two glasses of wine, before kicking off her shoes and sitting next to me, legs curled up under her body as shuffled to face her.

“Busy day?” she asked.

“Saved the day, I guess. Some nasty shit was happening in another area of Omega. Some friends of mine helped us take down some vorcha and stop the plague.”

“That was you?” she asked, a grin forming, “That’s all anyone has been talking about in the club.”

“Well, glad people appreciate it then.”

“There is one thing though, Shepard. Others mentioned that some of the people might have been with a group called Cerberus. I don’t know them that well, but the people were not saying nice things about them. Are you with them?”

“No, I’m not. My armour is jet black. No markings at all. However, Cerberus are here because there’s a group of very nasty things out there kidnapping entire human settlements, and I’m helping them stop the kidnappings.”

“But you’re not Cerberus?”

“Not at all. I used to be with…” I paused immediately, because if I said who I used to be with, surely she’d figure out who I was.

“Who were you with?” she asked quietly, if not a little nervously. Maybe there was a small part of her that thought I could be something worse.

“I used to be with the Alliance.”

It took her five seconds to put two and two together. Then she gasped. “You’re Commander Shepard!” she exclaimed quietly.

I shushed her. “Please… I don’t need too many people knowing that I’m back yet.”

“But you… you were dead. It was galaxy wide news!”

“I wasn’t dead. Not exactly. It’s a long story, Tara, and I’m not sure of everything myself. I was part-dead, part-coma, part-I’m not sure. All I know is that I’m still me, still human, and that’s what matters. And as I said, I’m definitely not Cerberus. But I was out for two years and things are, well, different.”

“And now you’re here with me?”

I met her eyes, the smile telling me everything. “Well, yeah. I couldn’t refuse another night with you before I leave.”

The kiss wasn’t what I expected. Soft, even tender, both of us placing our glasses on the floor as the kiss deepened quickly, Tara quickly ending up on her back as we made out. She was wearing a long dress, which I quickly removed to reveal a matching black bra and panties, which definitely excited me further. I removed her bra first, focusing on her breasts, her hands on the back of my head as I licked and bit her nipples, before sliding my mouth down her body towards her panties, taking those off with my teeth to her giggles, before she lay there naked.

Picking her up rather easily, I carried her over to the bed, laid her down so that her legs dangled off the edge, dropped to my knees on the floor, and proceeded to eat her out. She spread her legs nice and wide for me as I plunged her depths with my tongue, revelling in her taste. I put to the back of my mind everything else about her except she was a lovely girl, we seemed to get on, and she wouldn’t have been with anyone else that day. In fact, I may have been her only client since that first night.

I made her cum hard a little later, but she asked me not to stop. While I didn’t, I did slide a couple of fingers inside her, as I knew asari had that same special spot that human females had. When I found it, her second orgasm was even better, feeling her clench my fingers as she cried out. That’s when I felt the tap on the head, the universal sign that she wanted me to stop. So I stopped that but kissed up her body before kissing her on the lips again. “Goddess,” she whispered, “Keep doing that, even a girl in my line of work is bound to get feelings.”

“Well, something to remember me by at least.”

“I’ve talked about you to all the other girls. Many of them were very jealous.”

I took off my clothes as she moved so we could lie next to each other comfortably on our sides. “Oh, and what did you say?”

“That you’re probably the first client I’ve ever had who seemed to give a shit about me at the same time. As I said, I’m nothing more than a cumdump to those who visit me.”

“Sex should be enjoyed by both parties, whether I’m paying for it or not.”

“So you’ve done this before?”

“Of course. I don’t see the shame in it. It’s a transaction, but I can also like the person I’m doing it with, and want them to enjoy it too.” That earned me another kiss, and that one was definitely with at least some feeling. Rolling onto her back, she took me with her, sliding my cock inside her. I wouldn’t say we made love but it was different to the first two times we’d been together. Far more intimate would be the way to describe it. Her eye contact was something else. Usually she’d look away or close her eyes. That time, she looked right into my eyes. They were beautiful.

I wasn’t going to last forever and soon felt the urge to cum. That’s when she showed how flexible she was, spreading her legs then curling them back so she was completely exposed. “Fuck me,” she urged. What she wanted was what she got, and I was soon pounding her hard, and she seemed to really enjoy it. I certainly did, warning her I was close, so very close…

When I came inside her, I groaned so loud, I’m sure they heard me back on the Normandy, finally stopping with my cock deep inside her. She reached down, keeping me in place. “Don’t pull out,” she said quietly. I just leaned down and relaxed on my forearms so I didn’t squash her, feeling one of her arms stroke my back. I stayed in place until my cock was limp enough it simply fell out, collapsing to her side. All she did was immediately roll into me, cuddling into my chest. As I said, intimate.

“Will you stay the night?” she asked.

“What?”

“Stay the night with me.”

“I’m leaving Omega in the morning.”

“That’s okay, but I never have company during an evening. I’d like yours. You know how much an hour is. Just transfer what you think it’s all worth tomorrow morning before you go.”

After agreeing that I’d say, she kissed me again before rolling me onto my back, her lips kissing my chest and down my body before taking my cock in her mouth. God, she was very talented, and I was soon hard as a rock again. She kept blowing me though, enough that I definitely moaned her name more than once. Seeing I was very excited, that’s when she quickly moved herself to lower herself down, moaning as I felt her warmth once again. I happily lay there and watched her ride me. She rarely changed position but she seemed to really enjoy it. I’d been with enough to know when they are faking it, and there wasn’t a chance she was.

“You love my big cock?” I asked.

“God yes. So much better than the needle dicks I usually see.”

“Well, you’ve got one hell of a tight cunt, Tara.”

She met my eyes and smiled. “I’m glad you approve, Shepard. Maybe you can have another taste of it before you leave?”

“Oh, definitely. Maybe in the morning before I go? One last treat from me.”

She was driving me insane with what she was doing. It helped she was utterly beautiful. I even had to remind myself not to think too much, just to enjoy the moment, don’t develop feelings. But I’d had regular girls before, and it was always difficult when you just had chemistry. She eventually leaned forward, running my hands down her back to her arse, adjusting my legs, and she was soon meeting my thrusts, kissing me with far more passion than ever. Breaking the kiss, she cried out, wanting me to fuck her even harder. I obliged, and I was surprised when she enjoyed another orgasm a little later. It was so intense, she even asked me to stop as she settled down, my cock still buried inside her. “Goddess, Shepard, you’re going to ruin this for me!”

“Sorry,” I joked.

She kissed me again, wrapping my arms around her as I managed to sit up, feeling her complete the embrace. She seemed to know what she was doing, as she was soon bouncing up and down on me again, a different angle, one that she definitely liked even more. I had the strength to keep her balanced as her eyes never left mine again. “Want my arse?” she asked quietly.

“No. What I’m inside is better.”

Another smile. “Lot of clients expect it nowadays.”

“Not me. At least, it’s something I rarely do.”

Wrapping her hands around the back of my neck, her face was soon one of concentration as she really started to ride me again. Our bodies were now coated in sweat. Her cheeks were rather red. Her eyes wild with desire. She was breathing heavily from the exertion. “One more orgasm, then I’m going to pin you down…”

“I can’t wait for both,” she whispered.

When she orgasmed, I immediately grabbed her and rolled her over, feeling her legs shake as I grabbed her hands and forced them down onto the back. She simply smiled as her legs stayed wrapped around me, though looser so I could really start to fuck her again.

“Going to cum in me again?”

“That’s the plan.”

“Been so long since I had such a nice thick cock inside me, Shepard.”

“You’re the first girl I’ve been with since I woke up.”

“Really?” she asked quietly, and that admission seemed to affect her a little bit. I leaned down to kiss her, her hands moving to the back of my neck as I was now really driving into her. “Goddess,” she moaned.

“Soon,” I grunted.

It was soon, as I buried myself again and came hard. She laughed as I did, joking that I seemed to cum inside her even more than before. She might have been right, but I just felt rather delirious, resting on a forearm as I’m sure I was just about ready to pass out. I quickly pulled out and lay on my back, sucking in some deep breaths. “Okay, that’s me done for the moment,” I admitted.

“Would you like a shower at least? Bit sweaty now.”

“Give me five, then that’s a good idea.”

Five minutes later, we were in the shower, and I took a lot of pleasure in soaping down her body, and she certainly enjoyed returning the favour. She did take my cock in her mouth again, but I quickly stopped her, as I needed a bit longer to recover. She appreciated the fact that, after I’d washed off all the soap, I simply hugged her. Sometimes, all you want is a little affection.

I’ll admit to feeling a little weird to be spending the night there, but once we were under the sheets, she immediately snuggled back against me, wiggling her butt against my crotch. “Can you hold me?” she asked.

“Of course. That’s what I was going to do anyway.”

“Oh, good… I thought you might have found it weird.”

“I’m staying the night, I’m going to do what a man and woman would normally do when they’re sleeping together.” I kissed her cheek as she got herself comfortable. “Haven’t done this in a while.”

“What?”

“Have a beautiful, young asari in my arms as I’m about to go to sleep.” I paused before adding, “I’ll definitely have questions in the morning.”

“What will you say?”

“That it’s none of their damned business what I do in the evening, but that I did spend it with someone special.”

“You don’t know anything about me though.”

“Okay, I know your name is Tara. How old are you?”

“One hundred and twenty-eight years old.”

“So quite young in asari terms. I assume you went to school?”

“I actually graduated university about thirty years ago. Degree in asari psychology. But my mother said I should go out and enjoy the galaxy, all of its delights, before I settle down into a career. As I said, I didn’t want to do mercenary work, so I chose to become a dancer. Dancing turned into… this.”

“How long, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Only two years, and I’m very particular, as I much prefer the dancing. With this, no more than one client a day, and generally only for a couple of hours. I have one or two regulars I’ll see once every couple of months. Like you, mercenaries or those who travel around the Terminus.”

“Humans?”

“I’ll only have humans and asari as clients. Turian dicks are weird and hurt. Krogan are far too big. Batarians are just creepy. Salarians don’t like to fuck. I know a couple of girls that love Hanar because of all the tentacles.”

“So if I were to return…”

“I’d clear my schedule, Shepard. Those two regulars are people I really like, and looked forward to their return. You’d be just the same.”

“Well, something to look forward to then. But what about your future?”

“I’m not sure, to be honest. I enjoyed what I studied, but I’m not sure I want to become a psychologist. However, it’s helped me with this job to make money. I… well, I know who to target to make money.”

“Was I a target?”

“Well… maybe just a little, because I knew you were interested that first time you saw me dancing. And I knew if you came back, you’d probably want more, so I let the barman know I’d be available. Once I knew you were here for a couple of days, I made sure I was free for you if you wanted to see me again.”

“So I made an impression?”

“In more ways than one, Shepard. You’re the type of client a girl dreams of.”

“Well, no wonder all your friends were jealous.”

“Oh, I had more than one suggestion of offering you a three or four-way. I didn’t know…”

“Nah, I like you, Tara. You’re more than enough for me.”

She spun around and kissed me softly before settling her head under my chin, wrapping my arm around her. “See, that’s why.”

She actually drifted off quite quickly after that, so she must have felt comfortable in my presence. I felt the same, so I drifted off not long later.

The next morning wasn’t awkward at all. She woke up first as she was watching me sleep, feeling a fingertip trace one of my scars. She didn’t ask what it was, simply kissing me good morning before I remembered my promise from the night before, rolled her onto her back, and proceeded to pleasure her body before focusing on her pussy. I made her cum once, and she begged me to make her cum again, so I did what she asked, and when she asked for a third, I was more than happy to oblige. That was all she could take, begging me to stop as she needed a break, so I sat back on my knees, watching as her body shuddered as she giggled to herself. “Goddess,” she cried out. I sat there and waited for her to calm down, and when her eyes looked down towards my crotch, they lit up and she was quickly on her hands and knees, head bobbing up and down.

“Where?” I asked, as I could already feel it arriving.

“Mouth, Shepard. I’m swallowing what you give me.”

“Oh, you are definitely a keeper.”

She received a load a couple of minutes later, and she wasn’t lying, she swallowed nearly every drop. She sat back on her knees and smiled at me, reaching forward to caress her cheek before kissing her softly. When we broke apart, the smile had disappeared. “You’ve got to go?”

“Yeah. I’m sure they’re wondering where I am.”

“One last shower?”

“That I can do.”

We spent most of the time cuddling, and I think there was now some sort of affection between us. I certainly liked her with the proviso it was never going to go anywhere. And she liked me but knowing I would only ever be a client. Still, it was nice to hold someone young and beautiful, and who still liked you regardless.

After I’d dressed, Tara had thrown on a gown and escorted me to the door. I was expecting to just leave like last time, but she pulled my head down and gave me the sort of kiss once would expect from a lover. I wrapped my arms around her body and pulled her close, deepening the kiss even more until I heard her whimper, which made us both smile.

“Do you know when you’ll be back?” she asked after parting.

“No idea, but when I do, I’ll make sure I visit.”

She opened her omni-tool, asked for my contact details, then sent me hers. “When you know you’re coming back, let me know by call or message. I’ll clear my schedule. I can dance for you, we can just have a drink, or we can come back here and do what we did last night.”

“Why not all three?”

She gave me a gentle shove. “Cheeky.”

I kissed her cheek again before I keyed my omni-tool again, typing a few buttons, and waiting for the ping on her own. “I had a fantastic time, Tara. I look forward to doing it again sometime.” I kissed her cheek one last time as she opened her omni-tool and heard her gasp as she saw the sum. She started to blink rapidly as I wished her goodbye and turned to walk down the hallway. I heard her own goodbye in between a couple of choked sobs before I reached the door that led me out into Omega.

Miranda was tapping her foot impatiently as I walked through the airlock. “Where have you been, Commander?”

“None of your business, Miss Lawson. I’m in a really good mood right now and don’t need it bringing down.”

“We should have departed forty-five minutes ago.”

“I was doing something far more important,” I retorted, waving her away as I walked towards the galaxy map.

“And what would that be, Commander? Fucking a whore?”

The ship went practically silent at that, and I felt every member of crew look in our direction. Even Joker spun his chair around to watch. I felt my fists clench as I strode back towards her. “Say that again, Miss Lawson?” I growled.

To her credit, she firmed her jaw and met my eyes. “You heard me, Commander. Don’t you think it’s a little unbecoming of your position to be cavorting with a whore?”

The only reason… the only reason I didn’t slap the shit out of her then and there is I didn’t know how the crew would react, as in, would they come to her defence? I barely knew any of them but figured they were all as loyal to Cerberus as she was. I’d probably have a mutiny on my hands within the first week of command.

“Where I spend my evenings off the ship is none of your business.”

“It is when it causes the commanding officer of this vessel to be running late.”

“I don’t actually remember authorising a time for departure, Miss Lawson. All I said is that we would be departing in the morning. EDI, can you clarify if I gave a time of departure for this morning?”

“Checking data… According to ship logs, there is no time of departure provided for the Normandy this morning as signed off by Commander Shepard.”

I made sure my smile was as smug as possible. “There we go. So I have no idea what time you happened to pull out of your arse, Lawson, but the ship will depart when I say it will depart. Get it through that skull of yours that I am in command of this vessel and you are its XO.” I raised a finger. “And if you ever, and I mean ever, call her that word again, you had better pray to any deity you believe in that you’re wearing armour and have something to defend yourself with, because I will bring down the wrath of the gods themselves on your arse.” I stood to the side and looked away. “You’re dismissed, Miss Lawson. Ship departure time will be given when I deem appropriate.”

She was smart enough to say, “Yes, Commander.”

As the click of her heels disappeared, I turned to Joker. “I’ll have a destination for you in around ten minutes, Joker. Likely place will be the Citadel.”

“I’ll be ready when you are, Commander.”

Walking down the gangway towards the CIC, the crew got back to work though I heard the whispers. The fact I’d just torn strips off the XO isn’t exactly what I’d want to do under normal circumstances, but this wasn’t the Alliance. I was stuck working with an organisation I detested, and with people I didn’t know I could trust. And I was not going to have my authority undermined in such a manner.

“Are you okay, Shepard?” Kelly asked, looking a little unsure.

I flicked open my terminal but looked her way. “I feel great, Kelly. I had a good night, now it’s time to get back into the action.”

“Good to know. Would you like a coffee?”

“I’d love one, Kelly. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Do you know where we will be headed soon?”

“Aye, I do. Time to head to the Citadel and get some answers about just what the fuck has been going on the previous two years. I have a feeling it’s going to be things I do not want to hear.”