A/N: All right! And with that, the final battle against Saren is won!

And fun times are had. The epilogue will be just getting some character arcs resolved, setting up something for MV2's prologue, and so on and so forth.

So yeah, I won't say too much here since I usually tag A/N's at the end of a chapter whenever it finishes a story. So without further ado, here's the epilogue of Mass Vexations!

Epilogue: Mahler: Rondo-Finale

Four days after the Reaper invasion is thwarted, I got a chance to go through the extranet to find job postings. And that's what I'm doing right now, surfing the extranet for musical jobs.

Don't get me wrong, I kind of like life on the Normandy. But this life is going to end way sooner than what is safe for my sanity. Poor Shepard; she's gonna die in a month.

Speaking of month... I go to my pocket and check the date. I look at it as I gawk at it.

Wow, it's mid/late June already? Wow... I guess time just flies like that when you're having fun. Even better, in two days... wow, that's going to be quite a lot of fun. I already told Tali about it, so I wonder what she's going to do about it... Hm... Ah, well. We'll see soon enough. The Normandy's grounded for a couple of weeks while the Council decides what to do with us, so I'll get time to say goodbye if they leave late enough.

Right. Back to the extranet... Okay, teaching positions are not my forte as I'm a terrible teacher and am terrible at explaining things. So I'll skim over all that... Okay, playing jobs. That's more like it! All right, let's see... Ah, there's opera orchestra... Wait, the Citadel has an opera orchestra?

I click on the link. Okay, it's in the Tayseri ward... postponed until further notice... moving to an ampitheater in the 600 blocks until repairs are done on the Tayseri ward...

...looking for instrumentalists.

All right! I think I've hit the jackpot. I smile as I move through the holographic display. Okay... just as long as you can pass an audition... all right, use standard repertory, for one audition piece... I think I could bring the Clarke sonata over there, as I have basically the entire sonata memorized. Also, it's great for showing off a player's expressive abilities, particularly in the higher register. And besides, it's just such a great piece and I've never encountered a time where I haven't enjoyed playing it. So I'll take it to that.

Okay, excerpts... two, one from Don Juan... Oh, god damn it, that pain in the ass excerpt? Ah, well; at least I know Elektra still exists in this universe. That's a relief. And one from a Mozart opera... Oh, Christ, a Mozart opera. I just don't understand why people think he's such a genius. You know who a real musical genius was? Bach and Beethoven. Mozart just wrote simple melodies with chord progressions that worked really well. But where the hell was the counterpoint? I'll always prefer Haydn to Mozart, especially thanks to The Creation.

Right... Okay, I think I can do this. The audition is in two weeks, applications are being accepted...

And I should get to filling it out. All right... There. I've got it. All right, time to see if I can flex my compositional muscles any-

Wait. I just realized something.

Where the hell am I going to stay in the two years between ME 1 and ME 2? I mean, I'll have a job, but nowhere to stay! And I'll probably get robbed by a batarian!

Shit... Well, I could always ask some of the crew to see if there's any place I can go to. Maybe Shepard can pull some strings now that Anderson is the human Councillor. Oh, yeah, that's also a good thing; Anderson is the Councillor now. I'm so glad she picked Anderson over that opportunistic son of a bitch Udina. The fucker deserves it after all the grief he put us into. Anderson's much better for the job no matter how much he'll dislike it in ME2.

But that would likely be nepotism. What else can I do...? Well, Garrus has a small apartment here too, given that he works as a C-Sec officer. I imagine that'll help a bit. We'll see what happens...

Anyhow, time to look up more job offerings, preferrably for composition. Okay... type all that in...

Oh? What's this? A lot of these are film jobs. Wow, apparently film music is the thing to do today. I guess that makes sense, since there are a ton of cultures out there. I wonder if I would get a good film scoring job somewhere... All right, let's scroll down the list...

Okay, there's an asari romance... nah, I'll skip that. Okay, there's a human vid being shot on the Citadel... but it's a crime thriller. No thanks. Scale is too small... All right, a salarian vid... Hm, now this looks kind of interesting. It's a sci-fi thriller set on two planets. Ah, yes, this is a good scale. All right, it's nearing post-production, it needs a composer... And it uses salarian instruments. Oh, Christ. That's not going to be good... I would have to learn how to orchestrate for salarian instruments. Damn it. Just, damn it. Okay... moving right along...

Huh? Turian and human vid? Huh, this sounds interesting. I click on it and look over the specs. Oh. Apparently it's a turian/human collaboration being directed by a turian director, written by a turian and a human writer, produced by a human film company, and stuff. It's some sci-fi disaster drama about... ooh, an alternate Earth where some alien force destroyed lal life and enslaved the survivors. And they also moved on Palaven. Ooh, that's definitely interesting. And it's the right kind of scale I like to work with. I'm supposed to be teaming up with a turian composer. Okay... it's extraordinarily long, hence why they're using two people. It's currently filming, and it'll be in post-production soon. Two exerpts... and we can use however large a human orchestra we want.

Sweet! I get free reign over this one! It says I'll have to learn turian instruments, but I've got a month to figure it out and the excerpts don't need to have turian instruments. All right... If you're interested, e-mail these people and you'll get two seperate scenes for you to write a demo to. After a reading... Okay. All right. I'll see what happens with that.

I begin typing an e-mail, introducing myself as a little-known composer. I could send them stuff to show I actually do compose, but I'll wait for them to ask. I've began transcribing my Rhythmic Metamorphoses almost entirely from memory into this universe, so I should be fine if they ask.

Okay... write the e-mail... get that done... make sure everything is all right... and bam. Done stuff is done.

All right. I think I'm good on that. I'll go around the Normandy a bit, maybe pick up some lunch.

And I do that, standing up from my terminal as I give my stuff one more glance before nodding and leaving my quarters.

The only other person at the mess hall is Garrus. Oh, goody, I get to ask about the apartment. I get some food and then come to sit by him.

"Hey, Garrus," I say with a soft smile. "How are you feeling after saving the galaxy?"

Garrus gives me a shrug as his eyes follow me. "I don't know what to feel," he replies. "I guess I'm just... excited. Or something. I don't really know."

I shrug at this, shifting in my seat. "Can't say I blame you there," I reply. "I was feeling a bit surreal about it myself."

"What can you say to doing something so big?" asks the turian with a shrug. "I really don't know."

I nod in reply, taking a bite of my food. Okay, this isn't too bad. I look over to Garrus. "What do you think you're gonna do after you get off the Normandy?"

The turian shrugs. "Oh, I'm probably going back to C-Sec," he replies. "They've likely missed me while I was gone. And plus, it'll be good to get back into the groove, if you know what I mean."

"Of course, of course," I reply.

"And you?" asks the C-Sec officer. "What are you planning?"

I shrug. "Well... I'm thinking of sitting around the Citadel," I reply with a hand gesture. "I'd like to get back into music somehow. Maybe get a couple of jobs for my instrument and my compositions..."

Garrus' mandibles flared briefly before he shifted. "Why not go back to Earth?" he asks.

That's a good question indeed. Well, apart from the time factor... "Well..." I say, shrugging. "The going was getting really tough on Earth. Maybe here on the Citadel I could wipe the blackboard and start from scratch... if you know what I mean. I think I could do with starting over, honestly."

The turian regards this with a bit of silence. Finally, he seems to agree with me somehow as he raps his talons against the table. "I see..." he says. "Well... If you ever need somewhere to stay, you could always use my apartment down by the Zakera wards..."

I blink violently at this. Wait, I haven't even asked him about it yet, and he's already saying yes? Oh, dear...

"Wow... uh..." I say, scratching the back of my head. "I... was actually going to ask about that eventually. So... you don't mind?"

Garrus shakes his head, his mandibles flaring out. "You seem like pretty good company," he replies. "So I wouldn't mind. If you're up to it, of course."

Oh, sweet! I get to live with Garrus Vakarian! I smile softly as I shift in my seat. "Yeah," I say. "I'm definitely up for it. I hope you don't mind sound in the apartment..."

"My C-Sec shifts tend to start early, so don't worry about that," he replies, his mandibles flaring out. "All right then. I'll be heading out to the apartment the day before the Normandy leaves this place. We should meet sometime that day. We'll work it out when we actually figure out when the Normandy leaves."

"That we should," I reply with a smile. "I'm looking forward to it!

All right! So I'll be staying with Garrus for most of the time... well... until he goes to Omega anyway. We figure out how we're going to make it work as we eat lunch that day, and it makes me glad to know that at least I won't have to rely on some hotel until I'm more financially secure. I wonder how Garrus will treat leaving the Citadel for Omega. It would certainly be interesting.

So we talk about the future, and plans are made. All right, I'm looking forward to the interim between ME1 and ME2 already!

The next day, I decided maybe I could play some Contact Point 3 to take a break from composing.

No such luck. For when I enter the rec room, I see Shepard and Kaidan sitting on the couch watching one of those sappy asari romance vids. It looks like it's halfway through, as an asari and a turian actor both are locked in a tight embrace, with the asari leaving a kiss on the turian's fringe. Okay... yeah, this is definitely an asari romance vid. Complete with a gratuitous sex scene! Which is... currently playing. Okay... so that's what a turian exoskeleton looks like when it's not in some ridiculous outfit or in C-Sec armor or something like that. Fun times, fun times...

And... my god, the romance! I see Shepard leaning against Kaidan, her head resting on his shoulder as they watch. Kaidan's hand is on Shepard's arm, holding her close to him as they watch the vid. His own head seems to hover over Shepard as they watch. If they were being any more obvious about it, they'd have to start kissing right in my line of sight. But I see Kaidan's hand ghost up and down Shepard's arm, and that's all the confirmation I need.

Yep, Kaidan was gunning for Shepard. That much is for sure.

As the vid goes on, I see Shepard shift slightly, and I notice her hair shift slightly. It was then that I noticed the Spectre's arm was going behind Kaidan. My guess is that her forearm would be where Kaidan's waist is. She leans against him, and I swear I can hear a soft sigh.

Aw... they really are in love! I knew it! Well...

I dunno how to feel, honestly. I guess a part of me is happy for them that they're in love and that their feelings are strong enough. But... I can't help but feel bad for both of them. The two of them are going to go through great heartbreak, and they may never get back up from it. Poor Kaidan's gonna have to deal with Shepard's death in a month, and then poor Shepard is going to have to deal with Kaidan essentially dumping her on Horizon when she gets resurrected two years later. This relationship is not going to end well, if it ever gets back on track at all.

Oh, well. I guess I better leave them to enjoy their moment.

I slowly slink out of there, leaving the rec room quietly. Almost as soon as I do, I feel a soft bump behind me. Jumping back and turning around, I see Liara right behind me. I let out a sigh of relief as she regards me with confusion.

"Oh, you scared me there, Liara," I say.

"Is the rec room taken?" she asks.

I glance back at the opening before biting my lower lip.

"Well, let's just say that the commander is taking a bit of downtime with a certain lieutenant and I'll leave it at that..." I reply.

She may be young, but she sure knows when to catch on to something. She simply nods to this sentence, and then crosses her arms. Poor girl. You're going to go through a lot of pain in the coming years. You'll be very different by the time we see each other again. I suppose I should take this opportunity to milk seeing Liara pre-Redemption for the last time.

"I mean, we could probably go to the mess hall if you want to talk about something," I say. "Maybe you could tell me a little more about Prothean spirituality..."

At this, the asari scientist rose her eyebrows, holding her hands in front of her as she regarded this. Finally, she nods her agreement, and then glances at the rec room where Kaidan and Shepard are still watching that romance vid.

"Of course," she says. "Follow me."

And then we ended up sitting in the mess hall for a bit, discussing Prothean spirituality. It's nice to be able to see Liara pre-Redemption. Poor girl is going to go through a lot. I already know what she's going to be like two years from now, but it's still going to be very disconcerting seeing her threatening to flay someone with her mind. But still, the Prothean principles of spirituality are very interesting. She says there are a lot of records about spirituality for them... and it's interesting to behold.

Me? I'm just enjoying one of the last conversations I'll have with innocent Liara. It's enlightening, and it's also informative. I'll miss these conversations in a few years time...

I walk down to the hanger later that day. I imagine Wrex will want a few words with me before I go, anyhow. So yeah, I've made the official announcement, just like Garrus has that he's leaving. So fun times will be had.

So I go down to the hangar, and... oh, boy. This is gonna be awkward.

I see Wrex standing by his usual spot. However, I see his red armor discarded to the side as he growl's frustratedly. I see that he's put on the pants of his family armor by this point, and is trying to figure out how the hell he's going to get the top portion of his armor on. Oh boy, I'm seeing a shirtless krogan. An old shirtless krogan. This is awkward. Although, admittedly he's got good musculature for being an old... Oh, God! Bad thoughts! Bad thoughts! Damn my bisexuality to hell!

Oh, well, at least he's not trying to seduce me the way Tonn Actus was. Actually, I don't think he's noticed me yet. So yay me!

I approach, and then get the slightest gost of a smile as I watch him work on the armor. He glances at me briefly before looking back to his breastplate.

"Hey," he says simply, looking down at me.

"Getting that stuff on?" I ask, gesturing to the family armor.

He nods, giving his breastplate another look. "Indeed," he says. "I've grown tired of my old armor."

Hm... I've got a feeling that will be pretty different. Especially given what you do in the two years after Shepard dies.

"But this thing is giving me a bit of a pain..." he says, looking down at me as he fiddles around with the breastplate some more. "But I've got this..."

And with this, he makes another attempt to put on the breastplate. I see him struggle on some areas of the suit, and I get the idea that its regal nature doesn't help the krogan at all. But... he's fine. Yeah, he's definitely got it. He figures something out and nods simply, his stoic expression not changing. Slowly, he fit the rest of his breastplate onto his upper body, and then works at it a little more before it clicks into place. He stands still for a moment, and when the armor is still he nods.

He clambers over to where the gauntlets of his armor are, and then slowly places them back on his hands before turning to me.

"Krogan don't usually ask this, but how do I look?" he asks.

Oh? He's asking me how he looks in that? All right... Well, the armor is white... and that goes nicely against his red stuff. Compliments all his scars too. But more than anything, the armor looks incredibly regal on him. And it certainly fits him, given that he's a proud member of clan Urdnot.

I smile as I cross my arms. "You look like you could be the king of England," I reply.

"A king of some old nation, huh?" he asks.

My smile turns into a smirk. "Of course," I reply. "Your armor could practically be one of the crown jewels if you took up residence in the Tower of London." Assuming it still exists, of course. Which it does, thankfully. Extranet searches are good.

"Krogan don't like their armor to be put on display," he replies, giving me a rather odd look.

I shrug, closing my eyes. "True enough," I reply. "Still, you can't deny you look like a born leader in that armor."

He chuckles at this, nodding to me. "That's what I thought," he says.

I gesture to him with a tilt of my head. I wonder if he's going to bring up going back to Tuchanka any time in the near future. Like, this conversation maybe? I dunno. But still, that armor looks pretty damn sick on him.

"You know, I've never seen you get into that armor at all," I mention as I walk over to where he would usually stand. "Any particular reason?"

He regards me for a second as he takes a look at his personal space. Finally, he nods a little.

"I've been thinking about returning to Tuchanka," he says.

Aha, there we are! Still, here he is saying that... it's a bit surprising, honestly... I raise my eyebrows as soon as he says this. I stand a little closer to the krogan as he finishes saying this, and then I uncross my arms.

"I... I see..." I reply. "What's with the change of heart?"

"I came onto this ship," says Wrex. "That's what changed."

Oh, going with the short version, eh? "That can't really be all," I say. "I mean, what about this ship made you change?"

He stands there and seems to look over to the bridge as he talks. "Just seeing Shepard was a big thing for me," he admits. "Seeing the difference that one woman made is... inspiring. Makes me think I can change things back home..."

With this, he gives me a small turn. "And I also met you on this ship," he says, a small smile. "You know, kid? You're naive sometimes, and you do stupid things too. But... that isn't always such a bad thing, I've come to realize. I can unite the krogan. You've given me that hope."

Oh? So he partly attributes his decision to return to Tuchanka to me? Oh, boy. This is heavy indeed. But it's not entirely unwelcome, if I want to be honest. I guess it makes sense; I'm more innocent and don't know everything, but I'm optimistic. But sometimes optimism can get people very far in life. So yeah.

I shrug as he says this. "Well, uh..." What am I supposed to say to that? "I... Well..."

And then he bursts out into laughter soon after, a broad smile on his face as he gives me a very hearty pat on the back. When he stops laughing, he looks down on me as his hand lingers on my shoulder.

"Don't fret about it," he replies. "I'm glad you did. I can't be senile forever, right?"

"Yeah, I get your point," I say, rubbing the back of my head. "I... uh, thanks... I... uh... I mean, I'm glad that I've given you hope..."

I chuckle nervously as he pats my shoulder once more. As he takes a seat by the terminal hes always standing around, I get my nerve back. Okay, what do I say to him... Yeah, I should definitely encourage him to gather the krogan.

"Hey," I say. "When you go back to Tuchanka... Don't let anything set you back, all right? Work at it and I think you'll succeed eventually." Wait, think? "No, I know you'll succeed."

He smiles simply at this. "I'll try," he says. He sits there for a few seconds before lifting a finger. "I'm actually going to be leaving the Normandy in a few days for that."

My eyes widen at this, and I can't help but feel a little sad at this. "Oh, no!" I say. "You're leaving too?"

"You know how it is," he says. "I wanted you to be the first to know. I'm going to tell Shepard after we're done here."

Oh. Well... I can't hold him back, because he's Urdnot fuckin' Wrex! He's just as badass as they come, and if he thinks he can unite Tuchanka, he certainly will be able to. And that will come no matter what happens next. So fun times are had.

"Well, I'll miss seeing your face around the Normandy in my final days here," I begin. "You've kind of grown on me, too, if I want to be honest, you know? You've been a good friend, Wrex. It's always fun chatting it up with you."

"Ha!" he says, scoffing at this and providing the biggest smile a krogan can offer me. "You think I'm a good friend! You're an even better one! I'll certainly miss seeing you around!"

I gesture. Well... we'll have to go down to Tuchanka for Mordin and Grunt's loyalty missions, so why not? "Who knows?" I ask. "Maybe I'll stop by Tuchanka one of these days just to say hi."

He smiles at me over this. "I look forward to it!" he replies. "You can always find me with Clan Urdnot, should you ever visit."

I hold up my fist at this, smiling. I hold it suspended for a second before Wrex gives me an odd look. He points at the fist, an inquisitive expression on his face as he gives it a contemplative look.

"It's called a fistbump," I reply. "Basically, you form a fist and you bump it lightly against my fist."

"Oh. I see..." he says, nodding at this. And almost instantly, he forms a fist with the hand farthest from me. He smirks at me, and... well, it's just so awesome-looking on his face I can't help but smile back. And then, with the both of us smiling, we bump fists. We then just look at each other, without saying anything. Well, really, what can be-?

"Oh, and you just lost the game."


"Oh, motherf-!"

Two days later, I decided I'd go down to engineering again. When I arrived, Tali was there as usual, but this time she was looking at the drive core, the blue light shining softly behind the glass. I remembered the first time we ever had a talk in engineering. I was in the position she was in now, and she was coming up behind me. Fun how the roles are reversed this time. Addams isn't here either, which helps a little bit.

I come up behind the quarian, who turns upon hearing my footsteps. I give her a soft smile as I approach, feeling a little quick to think about things. I nod to her with a smile as she regards me.

"So..." I say. "Today... is the big day."

I whip out my cell phone, which I've turned on beforehand. There, the date is displayed rather prominently on the display, and she nods at this.

"I see..." she says. "Have you checked the calendar here yet?"

I glance to my left arm quickly, shaking my head as I do so. "No," I reply. "I'll get to that right now."

I store the cell phone in my pocket, bringing up my omni-tool. All right, check the date... calendar... all right, here we are.

"So?" asks Tali. "What is it?"

I smile broadly at her as I put away the display of my omni tool.

"September 9, 2183 in human years," I reply.

We stand there for a while. Wow... It feels so strange to know that this day will have a new significance. This... is pretty surreal.

Tali places a hand on my shoulder, and I can feel her smile from below the facemask as she regards me. This... this isn't enough. I look at her, and then I draw her into a brief hug. I smile in some kind of combination of stuff as we embrace, and I can feel her arms come under mine as she holds me. Our heads are directly next to each other, and all she has to do is turn her head to say something and she's right in my ear.

"Happy 20th birthday, Art," she says simply.

We stay like this for a while before we finally part.

"Wow..." I say. "It feels so wierd to have a new birthday... Now that I'm not born in mid-June at the start of the 90's, it's... I dunno. September 9, 2163... That's my birthdate..."

"It's not every day that people wind up where you are now," she comments. "I wonder how it feels to be in your position..."

I shrug. "It's... fun, in its own wierd little way," I begin. "But it's also so damn surreal it's ridiculous." I look down at the drive core as I say this, walking past the engineer. "Like... the drive core, for instance. The game itself had very good graphics, but... there's just no beating seeing the real thing for yourself. I dunno... It's just... seeing things on a screen and seeing them for real... It's a bit of a shell-shock, no matter what."

I turn to her then, shrugging. "It's just seeing everything in the game is so strange..." I say. "We hadn't made contact with any aliens back in 2010. And now I'm walking among races that everybody where I'm from would consider fictional. It's just so... strange. But at the same time, it's pretty awesome. I dunno what to make of it... But I think I could get used to this."

She approaches me then, giving me a look that I can't discern as her eyes glow behind her mask. "I guess you could," she adds. "So... we'll see each other in a month under less than perfect circumstances?"

I nod. "Pretty much," I reply. "Well... not even good circumstances. You'll know, trust me."

She nods, and I can feel the nervous anticipation in her limbs. Looking to my omni-tool, I tap a few buttons on the holographic display, and a ping sounds on Tali's omni-tool. She looks at it curiously, and then taps a few things on hers. I hear a soft beep, and then she looks up at me. This time, I can feel the smile, and I can't help but show my own teeth to her.

"Keep in touch?" I ask.

She nods at this without a second's hesitation. "Of course," she replies. "I... I will..."

And with this, we say all that needs to be said as she walks to my side. We end up looking at the drive core for an hour and talking about other things. As we talk, I suddenly come to notice that my hand was on top of hers the entire time. That felt... awkward, but at the same time I didn't want to move it. So we stood like that, just talking.

And my heart kept on feeling like it was fluttering wildly. It was... a strange, yet very welcome, feeling.

A few days later, and Garrus and I are about ready to leave. Sadness ensues. Ah, well, I'll miss the commander. She's a good woman; I look forward to her resurrection.

I'll also miss the interior of this ship. I've already told Tali about the destruction of the Normandy, and that Shepard is also going to die in the explosion. She didn't take it so well, but as always she's keeping her word about not talking about anything we say in these walls. I think she's just angrier at the fact that I'd just sit there and let Shepard die. But I can't risk not knowing what the future will hold. It's stayed pretty faithful for the most part, except for the fact that I was the one talking to Wrex, Dr. Michel died, and Kaidan survived no matter what. So yeah.

I take a look at my room as I sit down. It always looked pretty lonely and desolate, but I got used to it after a while. I'm gonna miss this place. That much is for damn sure. It's like my second home.

But on the bright side, I got an audition with the Citadel Opera Orchestra, which is awesome because they'll be doing Wozzeck in one of their upcoming seasons before ME2 rolls around. And that will be awesome provided I get into it (which I doubt: I'm a good violist, but I don't think I'm great). Barring that, though, I've joined a composer's guild, so I should be fine with that. I'm just pissed that their normal venue got trashed by Sovereign. Yeah, destroy all of humanity and things won't be good, but destroying the opera house is just too much!

I take one last look at the room, and then I pull the paperweight out. Well, looks like Benezia was probably not onto something. Sure, I met with Vigil and got some answers... But they weren't enough for me. What I want to know is what the hell is this piece of Prothean technology supposed to do? And why are those not of this universe supposed to be the only ones who can hold it?

"That answer shall come soon, young one."

Ah! Holy shit! What the hell was that? I jump up, frantically looking around the room as I wonder where I heard the voice coming from.

"Who's here?" I ask. "And how the fuck do you know what I was thinking?"

"You look in the wrong places, young one." Holy shit, there's that voice again. I jump up, shaking my head.

"Oh, God, I think I'm going insane!" I say, looking around me. "Where is it coming from?"

"In your hands you hold the keys for the galaxy's salvation."

Okay, this is getting creepy. What the fuck is going on?

"I shall say it again: you look in the wrong places."

Wait. Wrong places... hands... I hold the keys... Benezia's words...

I look in the orange paperweight in my hands.

"Wait, wait, wait," I say, shaking my head and gesturing with my free hand. "You're telling me that I'm talking to a wierd orange paperweight that has seemingly served no purpose until this point?"

"And the truth has been seen by the keeper. And thus, all has turned out as it should."

I blink, looking down at the paperweight.

"I think I'm going insane," I reply, scratching my head with my free hand. "I'm talking to an inanimate object and I'm hearing a voice in my head." Yeah, I'm going insane. There's no other logical explanation for this.

"I speak the truth, that you are still a sane man," says the voice in my head. "Tell me, young one; what songs did the evil one sing when he killed himself?"

"Well, he was all, 'Thank you Shepard'," I reply. "Or something like that. I still don't believe you! All you've done is to reiterate stuff I already know!"

"Then perhaps I should allow my true nature to be revealed," says the voice. "For you have spent many a night contemplating my existence, have you not?"

I look at the paperweight. "How do I know it's not emotional validation?" I ask.

"You shall see, young one," says the thing. "For I can tell you the last Prothean to die by the Reapers' hand was the legendary Oracle of Feros, who foresaw a prophecy that I have been waiting to see play out for fifty thousand years.

"Four shall come, a glourious four, that heralds the end of a cycle eternal. The first shall come from strangest tides, and the second from tides quite well known. The third, shall be the wing of justice, the fourth, a sword forged in hell. And when these four together come forth, their songs shall end, to hell be blown."

Oh, great, poetry. Why is it that prophecies are always recited in poetry?

"That is not the important part," says the... voice? Paperweight?

I raise my eyebrows. "I still don't believe this," I reply. "What are you? Who are you?"

"I am nameless," replies the object. "Eternally so, I am quite afraid. But fear not, for I mean no harm. I am a vessel for the spirit of the Oracle of Feros. I am the only link in this world to a place of dreams..."

Wait... "So you're telling me that the Protheans dabbled in mysticism?" I ask.

"Indeed," replies the voice.

Hm? I don't think Liara ever excavated anything like that up... Unless the more ancient Prothean items say something... Because I know Liara dug up a few mystic objects that were treated like charms dating from about a hundred years before the Reapers came and blew everything up. So...


"The Prothean spirituality..." I whisper. "It mentions a lot about several gods that watch over the world... You actually saw them, didn't you?"

"They are lords of the realm of dreams," explains the AI. "They are as real as the abode which you hold in my hand. I speak the truth, young one, that they are the ones that taught us the art of divination."

"I... don't think I believe you, but there we go," I say. "What is the Oracle of Feros?"

"The Oracle of Feros was a mysterious one," says the voice. "She was a great mage, a mage of incredible power. She could peer into the folds of the realm that so many cannot see. And she could tell us of what would come to pass. I am the vehicle for her last prophecy, a prophecy that my creators made an attempt to make happen."

Oh, great, I am like a chosen one. I'll bet this thing kept me from dying at Virmire.

"No, I did not spare your life at Virmire," replies the thing without skipping a beat. "But the fates did. Your role in the coming war against the Reapers is too important. You have no true idea of how significant a role you will play; the fates do, however, and so you survived. I know this, and I speak the truth when I tell you that you were not spared by me but by a power far greater than I. I have, however, seen your exploits. You are admirable, noble, and quite able to fight a war, even with your underconfidence. I have grown... to like you."

I look down at it, a frown forming on my face. This think is pissing me off. "Well, you could have at least attempted to talk to me earlier!" I reply snappily. "But no, you had to wait until after the fact to get it done. Jesus Christ on a pikestaff, you would've saved me a lot of angst by just saying you could influence events to make sure I wouldn't die at Virmire! Asshole! Why didn't you talk to me then? Why now?"

"I had not found my voice yet," replies the object. "It was not until you passed through the Conduit that my voice was found. I would have informed you earlier had I found my voice. Once I had found it, you would be the only one able to hear it."

I blink. Okay, this is starting to get a little creepy. And I'm sensing a lot of bullshit right now. "That's not really why you didn't talk to me, is it?" I ask.

The thing... whatever it is... seems to sigh. "I wanted to demonstrate my power first," it says. "I survived many thousands of years in Sovereign without being indoctrinated. I would like the one who handles me to know how much power I can wield. And even more so if they understand what I can do on my own. For once you master the other world, you can do many wondrous things with me."

Okay, this is creepy. It's kind of starting to sound like that one circus master... shit, what's his name? I forget. It's the one from Something Wicked This Way Comes, I know that. But for the life of me, I can't remember his name. Damn it... it's been too long since I've read a Ray Bradbury book.

"Right..." I say. "I'm not gonna lie to you since you can read my mind, but... I don't exactly trust you all that much. This... is a bit much to swallow."

"We do have two years, yes?" asks the paperweight thing... "You may get used to me in that time. In the meantime, though, I still am nameless..."

I look at it. "So you want me to give your consciousness a name," I say.

"If you would, please," says the thing.

Huh... Well... Oddy doesn't work, so there's that. Mystic... nah, not so much. Norn? Nah, that only works in the plural. Thor? Nah, he doesn't control lightning...

Well... what can I name this thing? It's orange, and... well...

"I... I hope 'Orange' doesn't sound too odd to you," I say with a shrug.

The thing hesitates for a second. But then hen I hear it again, it seems rather pleased. "Yes, that is suitable," it says. "I was kept in an orange abode, and so Orange I shall be named. Thank you, young one."

"Right..." I say. "What's this realm that so many cannot see?"

"It is a realm where spirits and demons walk alike," replies Orange. "Its hold was strongest at the Conduit. It was in that strong area where I found my voice. I will be able to keep my voice for ten years as a result. But it is a strange world, where people also go when they sleep."

Wait... "So it's like the Fade from Dragon Age?" I ask.

"If you would prefer to put it that way, yes," says Orange. "It is a world in which prophecies are also seen. You have been around me long enough. Perhaps someday I can teach you the Prothean art of seeing into the void to see what could come to pass. But perhaps I have said too much. I will let you digest what information you have obtained for now, and I will only reveal the prophecy to you as it becomes relevant."

I look to the object before shrugging. "I'm going in for a psych evaluation after this," I say. "I want to make sure I haven't lost my mind."

"Very well," says the object. "Do as you wish if it will help you digest this information."

Right. Okay, I guess... the conversation's done?

"For now, yes," says Orange. "Until we meet again."

Odd. That was certainly an odd encounter... And it hasn't answered anything, god damn it!

I put the object back in my pocket.

Okay, that was really fucked up. I'm definitely going in for a psych evaluation later. I want to make sure I'm still sane. And that I'm not dead. That too, although by the fact that Shepard's around I really doubt it's so.

Well, this is the last time I'll ever be in this room. I think I'll stop by navigation sometime soon and say goodbye to the remaining crew while I prepare for the Citadel Opera Orchestra auditions. Now, I need to find stuff to do.

For now, I grip my viola case in my hand, the case containing my armor, weapons, and terminal in another, and I give one last look at my quarters. Small thing, but it did its job.

And with this, I leave the room behind. No words can really describe how much I'm gonna miss the SSV Normandy.

I make my rounds around the Normandy and say farewell to several people. Wrex already left for Tuchanka, so I've already said goodbye. Tali is staying since Shepard offered to take her back to the Fleet, so we trade contact info and leave it at that. Kaidan simply regards me with a nod as I leave, and then Liara and I exchange a few cordial words. And lastly, Shepard is rather warm. I tell her that if I ever need anything I can talk to Hannah and Al. I'm grateful for this, and I nod.

And then, at the airlock I meet up with Garrus. We step off, and we have a small conversation as we go on. I look back at the Normandy briefly, getting a last look at it. After all, the next time I see a ship called the Normandy, it's going to have a Cerberus logo on it and it's going to have an overpraising bitch as second in command. Ah, well.

I shrug it off and turn back to Garrus. The two of us head into the Citadel, leaving the Normandy behind as we begin a new life.

And now, the countdown to Mass Effect 2 begins.

End of Part 1

A/N: And that's all, folks!

So yes. Some things that should be mentioned? I'll just go down a few points that I know will come up from reading this chapter.

Well, yes, you read that entire last part of the epilogue right; Mass Vexations now has mystical elements. Don't freak out just yet, though; I won't be using mystical elements like the kind that you'd see in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Because that would be too easy, and it would make everything so much less fun. No, this'll mostly just stick to mystical elements of the kind that would be more commonly found in something like Greek mythology, where everything is all part of a much larger plan that we can't comprehend without help. No spells or sorcery or mystical creatuers or any of that stuff; just sticking to divination, with maybe the occasional extra thing thrown out there.

As for that prophecy? It'll be fulfilled, although it'll take a damn long time to get everyone we need for it. Let's just say the prophecy won't have everybody there until midway through MV3, possibly towards the end of it.

And as for the other uses of that thing? Art will find out exactly what those other uses are throughout MV2. Needless to say, they will be quite... strange.

Other than that, yes, I shall keep up the ship teasing between Tali and Art for all it's worth. Don't fret just yet, though; they WILL get together as a couple during the course of MV2. This much is guaranteed, even with some of the angst that occurs during MV2. So for all of you that have been eyeing Art/Tali for now, your patience shall be rewarded in MV2! And no, September 9 is not my actual birthday, so there!

Right. I guess... I better go down a list of thank yous. So, I'd like to thank the following:

-The team at Bioware for making such a great game.

-Everybody that left a review for this thing. (Seriously, I never would have thought this thing would eventually go on to get over 100 reviews when I first wrote it; I only have two other stories on this site that have surpassed that record as of this writing, and one wasn't even completely written by me!)

-My faithful reviewers for this (iNf3ctioNZ, Calrama, XT Vengeance, friendlyalien, cHr0n0sPh3r3, Nexu5, and FoxwolfJackson).

-My good friends on this and other sites (iNf3ctioNZ, FoxwolfJackson, nievelion, and RoyalFanatic) for all their support.

-And you, the reader.

All right. So starting now, I'll take a break on Mass Vexations to work on other projects. I hope you enjoyed, and I look forward to seeing your comments on parts 2 and 3!

-Herr Wozzeck