Pre-Body

Sorry about slowing down in terms of releasing my stories. I've got finals just around the corner, and even then I had to edit a 30-minute video for presentation the night before (and finished it the morning earlier). I'll try to release some new material witout sacrificing writing quality. In fact, after reading a few particularly good work out there (one of note was from an author with the initials HS), I feel like I need to make my chapters even better written. Damn my perfectionist tendencies.

If anyone would like to comment on the current direction of this story, feel free to leave a review. Any helpful suggestions and criticism would be nice, too.

MASS EFFECT 2: The Misadventures Of Subject Zero

a Series of Stories Involving Jack and John Shepard

Legend: "speech bubbles", 'thought bubbles', --- Load Screens..., |=- Flashbacks -=|, -|- RS -|- Shift in POV -|- BS -|-

Body

"Good evening, passengers," the sarcastically cheerful voice of Joker greeted dryly through the intercom. "This is your badass pilot Joker speaking." Jack heard several audible groans leave the mouths of the collective masses of equally disgruntled crew. "I would like to inform you that we have safely docked into the most luxurious district outside of Citadel space: Illium." This would be their first break from the constant battle against the Reapers in several weeks, and their first ever since they took out the main headquarters of those genocidal machines' primary tool of harvesting and observing the progress of the galaxy: the Collectors.

Jack, along with the other squad members who were part of that final assault against the indoctrinated-into-mindless-zombies race of former Protheans, was exhausted from the mission. After the initial adrenaline rush that came about succeeding where everyone thought they would fail with heavy casualties - and actually returning from the core with absolutely none - they burned themselves out helping the severely traumatized crew make as best a makeshift overhaul of the ship's damaged hull as possible. Worst of all, they had to do it in mid-relay transit. 'Shepard's a fucking slave driver, risking our necks to getting ripped apart by hyperspace right after risking our necks to getting ripped apart by a goddamn Reaper fetus.'

"If you'd all kindly refrain from elbowing your fellow crewmembers in the face, chest or bad place on your way out, Doctor Chakwas would be plenty grateful." The bald-headed woman sighed loudly and shook her head, looking around her. The path leading towards the airlock was fairly spacious for a Frigate's standards, but even it couldn't handle the exodus of the entire ship's population. There was very little "wiggle" room on any angle, let alone room enough for people concerned about personal space to be anywhere near comfortable. That included her.

"Hey, watch it," Jack snapped irritably to a hapless Cerberus staff, who proceeded to whimper and make himself as small as possible upon discovering just who it was he unwittingly shoved. "Touch me again, and I swear I'll... crap." She caught herself from withdrawing to her usual fire-and-forget personality, looking at the quivering mass next to her. 'I hate it when I get like that.' "Listen, uh, guy," she started with a distinctively calmer voice. "I'm not gonna hurt you. Just watch where you're headed next time, alright?" Her sudden change of attitude shocked her companion, who proceeded to bump into someone else: the resident bounty hunter, Zaeed.

"Get offa me, or I'll reevaluate my vow to the Commander of putting my idiot-bashing business on hold. We clear, mate?" The woman sighed once more, but this time gave up a small chuckle. At least she held up her own promise to continue improving herself; she needn't take responsibility for any inadvertent consequences that might entail. In the back of her mind, she noted how the well-paid hunter mentioned his own promise to Shepard and grinned. His charisma and the feeling of needing to prove oneself to him was not just limited to her, it seemed.

Just when the biotic's mood lifted, though, the intercom blared one last time with that same, dry-humored voice that elicited another curse from her, out of instinct. "And Grunt, don't pick any fights. This is 'shore leave', not 'shore killing-spree-warzone-ala-mode leave'." Somewhere behind her, Jack heard the loud whine of the krogan Shepard had picked up as a tank-bred experiment. Of course, a simple whining sound for a krogan translated into an ear-splitting roar of dissatisfaction for all other species, a simple fact that reminded itself very painfully to everyone within a two-biped radius of the hulking creature.

Grunt replied to the pilot, who was still many feet away from him, without the use of a radio channel (oddly enough, Shepard instructed everyone not to bring their audio transmitters with them; he mentioned something about it "making the entire occasion feel like a patrol instead of a shore leave") again to the chagrin of those in his immediate vicinity. "But I've been waiting to smash skulls into pulp since invading the Collector's homeland! I demand bloodshed!"

'The hell? The guy comes straight out of the single bloodiest and most dangerous fight for his life, for everyone's goddamn lives, and he wants more?' Had her position relative to Grunt been just a little closer so as to thoughtfully put fewer human targets between them - but even now, it was tempting - Jack would have happily given her thick-headed squadmate a piece of her eezo-charged mind. It was near the end of the Collector assault, and Shepard had chosen her to protect him and his squad, a fact that kept giving her butterflies whenever she thought just how much he'd trusted her to do that for him. Unfortunately, he also chose to bring the krogan along, who proceeded to charge into battle - and out of the biotic barrier - several times, making their trip that much longer.

Just as the tattooed woman felt that she would be justified in replying to Grunt's ridiculous wishes with a satisfying response, one that she could only deliver through the language of ass-kicking, Joker beat her to it."Then sneak into the women's bathroom when a human female says it's her time of the month." He shouted this one over air this time, since they were close enough to the exit and the pilot for the use of the intercom to be impractical. "Bet you'll have your fill of bloodshed to last you another week."

Jack's jaw dropped. "You little crippled sonuva-"

"Truly?" the krogan interrupted her mid-sentence, cutting her rage-filled train of thought with a tone of genuine curiosity. "The tank did not mention this phenomenon."

"You gotta be shitting me," she uttered aloud. The pilot crossed a fine line with all the finesse of a running elcor trying to bank to the side. In one fell swoop, the biotic woman suddenly had to be constantly vigilant of a massive alien innocently trying to take a peek at one of a human woman's most secretive of rituals, and she had a calcium-challenged comedian to thank for it. At least now, she was relieved that she wasn't the closest female to Grunt in the area. Looking back at him, though, she almost doubled over in barely contained laughter when she discovered who was.

"Lawson," Grunt began with the straightest face imaginable, making the grimace of pure horror on the Cerberus operative's own that much more hilarious, "...is it your time of the month?"

"Joker, you incompetent ass!"

--- Loading...
--- In this universe, there are two types of people: those whom Garrus likes, and those whom he doesn't. Coincidentally, the same division or categorizing of
--- people occurs when you evaluate them between those who are alive and well, and those who are not.
--- ...

Jack was standing near the bridgeway that connected the Normandy to Illium, arms crossed and tapping her booted foot on the metal floor. 'What's taking Shepard so damn long in there?' As she silently watched the last of the crew flooding out of the ship, the biotic woman exhaled loudly. "Even Joker doesn't deserve a save after pulling that stunt with Grunt." She silently mused how unfortunate the pilot had been to have Miranda of all people become an unwitting victim of his most heinous act of humor yet. 'Then again, he's even luckier that it hadn't been me.'

She snapped back to reality as her eyes caught a glimpse of the man she had been waiting for, confidently strutting down the incline wearing a rather well-designed variation of his normal indoor attire. His eyes met hers, the model of confidence peering into the sea of chaotic passion, the tides of which her Commander was slowly but surely stemming and transforming into... 'Into something better.' She slowly uncrossed her arms and calmed down considerably at his arrival. There was something about him, something she couldn't describe, that just made her feel less bothered by things around her. He gave her a grin; her breath got caught in her throat.

"I apologize for keeping you waiting," the Ex-Spectre started with a hint of amusement in his voice. He came to a stop in front his woman and unexpectedly took her hand in his as he bowed deeply, planting a soft kiss on the back of it that sent a warm tingling up her spine. "...Madame."

"Sh-shut up, Shepard," Jack retorted in an attempt to sound offended, but her face began to redden as she weakly tried pulling her hand back, to no avail; it was His. The Commander looked up with a glint in his eye, telling her that he understood this just as much as she did, and that he could do it anytime he pleased. 'And he's right,' she thought with a somewhat meek smile. She numbly wondered just how she could tell so much from a single gleam of his eye, but didn't pursue the stray thought, choosing instead to savor the moment of being enveloped in her companion's unspoken possessiveness, to savor her state of possession by a man that could have everything... and instead picked her.

Shepard slowly straightened his back, bringing their gazes level with each other, but never let go of her tether to him. "It seems Joker isn't coming ashore," he spoke in his gravelly voice that Jack loved, but in a matter-of-fact tone. "Said something about the leather seats sealing the deal."

The tattooed woman grunted with slight disinterest. "He's probably got himself plenty of action on board anyway."

The soldier gave her a strange look. "You think Joker and EDI are in that sort of relationship?"

"I don't think so; I know so." A slight shudder wracked her body as she tried her best not to recall her recent experience with the AI too vividly. "...Unfortunately so."

The Commander's puzzled look remained on his face, and for a moment Jack thought that he would insist on making her relive that event that shook her to the core more profoundly than even facing the embodiment of the Reapers' twisted ambition to evolve. She sighed inwardly when he nodded, giving her hand a soft squeeze that very quickly reminded her that it was still in his own hand. With that slight pressure, the biotic woman was washed of all thoughts that were not directly connected to the undertaking that she would that she would proceed to embark on with her man by her side. She closed her eyes momentarily and let out a contented sigh, indifferent to whatever fears of being seen like this she may harbor.

"Ready?"

His voice opened her eyes once more. She looked into his, a soft hue of blue that seemed to encapsulate the entire galaxy when he cast his calculating gaze upon it. With a slow nod and a released breath, she replied with as much effort to portray her thoughts to him in as fluently as she could. "Shepard, when I'm with you, I'm ready for anything."

-|- Rrreeeddd Shifting... -|-

"Target is on the move." breath "I repeat, target is on-" breath"-the move."

"With bated breath: Affirmative, Swift Wind. Attempting to look inconspicuous: Approaching vantage point beta."

"Will follow," breath "Slow Rock. I suggest not" breath "speaking often in order to avoid" breath "your natural speech limitations arousing" breath "suspicion."

"Half-heartedly: Agreed. Sarcastically: Because I am the only one with natural speech limitations."

-|- Bbbllluuueee Shifting... -|-

"...Uh, Shepard, do you notice those two guys tailing us?"

"Probably just fans. Don't worry about them."

"Yeah, but still, they're giving me the creeps."

"Just ignore them and follow my lead. I've got experience dealing with fanatics."

"Shouldn't we at least tell them they're fooling us like Salarians fool Krogan into taking anti-genophage pills?"

"...Hm."

"...Alright, dammit; I'll follow your lead. But just 'cause me following while you're leading always ends with me having the best damn high in the entire fucking galaxy.'

"Good girl."

Post-Body

The plot thickens, hehe.

I'd like to note that, as much as possible, I'd like to include references and allusions in my work. To that end, I'll start talking to fellow writers and asking if I can borrow lines or settings of their story in order to conjure a sense of deja vu or better within the reader. Certain parts of my stories will eventually even reference to my other stories which may or may not be interrelated. It's yet another storytelling concept I'm experimenting on. Here's to hoping it works out.