AN: The moment you all (excluding the people who accidentally clicked this link) have been waiting for... well the people who put me on their author's alert list. Odyssey 2185.

You know the drill read the first two stories and play the game... trust me it helps. Also I don't own Mass Effect I only own my OCs and small pieces of plot inserted into the supremely awesome ME story.

Should I put a speech here... wait you can't answer.

Fine an opening statement.

On to Life

Ch. 1

The ability to delude yourself may be an important survival tool.

Author: Jane Wagner

I was trying for the billionth time in the last six months to access the Extranet. The Illusive Man somehow always had me jammed no matter what terminal I tried to use. So I haven't been able to see any of Tali's responses to my message and subsequent disappearance or been able to tell her that I'm ok. TIM (The Illusive Man) was really starting to piss me off.

"You'd think after so long you'd give up," Helen remarks at my frustration.

I glare at her, she wasn't as nice as I had originally thought . . . she had been acting, just like . . . I shake the thoughts away, for they were inevitably followed by misty eyes and I'm gonna make sure TIM's people never see any sign of weakness.

"I'll never give up on Tali," I respond through gritted teeth.

"He's isolating you for a reason," Helen responds, she crosses her arms and that movement draws my attention to her armor. It was ridiculous it looked like the basic armor your Shepard started out with . . . just bubble-gum pink, with a Cerberus logo on the right side of her chest.

I was still wearing the armor the Owner had left for me on that base, cloak cowl the armor was thicker in the chest, my shins and the one forearm sleeve. It was made to fit me perfectly . . . I had to believe it was mine, it fit perfectly and even had a seal that matched one on my arm allowing it to go EVA. Why all these upgrades? Did he think I'd see the error of my ways? Well I'm not . . . if that wasn't obvious by now.

"I know why he's isolating me," I say slightly defeated but still trying. Any messages to Tali would be traced back to me and I'd have to move . . . but so what. "I miss her damn it," I shout smashing the terminal.

"Forget about the suited . . . "

I spin and lift her off the ground, "I don't hit women, but your pushing it," I growl. It's not fair I finally choose that I want Tali, only Tali, and I can't even tell her because of these bastards.

"Let me go," she orders. I drop her roughly . . . At least I didn't hit her. Seriously, my patience is wearing thin, six months of this Cerberus shit. Making me do all these missions, training me . . . ok I was fine with the training, though I still haven't learned how to fight up close . . . and they're doing experiment on me! Sure they were pretty non invasive just taking samples and scanning me . . . but after you escape from a lab you kinda hate going back.

"What do you see in her she's not even human," Helen asks. God I hate Helen now, she never shuts up about how Tali's an alien I was a human blah da freakin blah . . .

"She's kind," I answer, "selfless, and will probably kill me for not talking to her for six months!" I start on a new terminal trying to out-hack whoever was blocking me. I'd gotten quite good after a couple hours a day for six months of practice. "Especially if she finds out I'm working with you people . . . even if it is against my will."

"You're free to quit whenever you want," she answers.

"Yeah then the bogeymen keeping the Owner off me disappear," I respond not looking away from the computer. My typing speed was still a little awkward but it wasn't as bad as it was when I was starting.

"If you get a message through to your girlfriend," she spits out the word 'girlfriend.' "Then your protection will disappear. "He's kept the Owner away from you using misdirection, but he won't go into an all out war for you."

I realize I've known this all along, I've been like a dog chasing a car . . . I don't know what I'd do if I caught it. I fall to my knees, and sob. Screw keeping a strong face, "I miss her . . . "

She sighs, and kneels down next to me, "sh . . . I know." She tries to comfort me. "Now cut it out you're making a scene."

I regain my composure, can't draw too much attention. "Right, let's go."

We had a mission here, on Illium. A Cerberus operative had gone missing suddenly and we were going to check it out. We were TIM's goto people. I've been to nearly a dozen secret projects that if I told anyone about them they'd disappear the next day, met with hundreds of contacts, and been in more firefights than when I was with Shepard. I've gotten pretty good at this secret agent stuff. I'd trade it all away for a week alone anywhere in the galaxy with Tali . . . you know how they say absence makes the heart grow fonder, it seems to be true in my case.

Back to the mission. We hailed a cab, and I get a much better look at the Illium skyline. You couldn't get a good view of the horizon in any direction as the massive towers stretched high in the sky . . . it kind of reminded me of Coruscant in Star wars. We merge into the heavy traffic. Helen of course was driving. "Why's this guy important enough to send us to find him," I ask.

"He was gathering information the Illusive Man wants," she answers.


"You know better than that," she answers.

"Right . . . " Don't ask, just shut up and do your job. It sucks being curious in a secret organization.

I watch the vehicles fly by outside my window. Man another thing that sucks is there are not punch bugs in the Mass Effect universe.

We finally set down near an apartment complex. Various species walk in and out of the building. I spot a quarian and my heart jumps for a millisecond. Man, I need help, she's not even wearing the right color suit. I walk by and she glances down at my arm and stumbles back on reflex. I pull my cloak to cover my geth arm.

"Excuse me," I say as we pass. She watches me walk by. A thought comes to me . . . that's certain to get someone's attention, and if my description is passed around through the migrant fleet maybe Tali'll learn I'm alive . . . crap, I've got to be the one to tell her. Otherwise she'll think I was dodging her on purpose!

I turn back to the quarian. Oh crap, she's gone. I'm dead meat.

No choice but to go back to the mission and do my job. I enter the complex, no need to buzz in. After all we're here to check up on a sick family member.

Yeah right . . .

We managed to find the landlord, a gruff krogan. That surprised me I thought they all ran around trying to kill each other . . . don't look at me like that you've seen 'em. I may be spending too much time around Helen . . .

"How do you know Alex," the landlord asks leading us through the building his master key in hand.

"He's our cousin," Helen answers. "His mom hasn't heard from him and since we were in the neighborhood asked us to check up on him."

I can tell the krogan knows there's something off about her story, he's pretty smart . . . or at least has good instincts. "He's lucky to have such . . . well-armed family members," the landlord remarks, glancing at our weapons. I was still using the two Phalanx pistols, two Locust SMGs Incisor sniper rifle I stole from the Owner's base, of course my most prized possession the knife and sheathe Tali gave me hung down at my waist. Helen was outfitted like a soldier, one pistol, shotgun, assault rifle, and sniper rifle, very versatile.

"Mercs," I respond. I found one word sentences were hard to argue with.

"I figured," the landlord responds.

We finally reach the room, "Here we are," the landlord says opening the door. I get a bad feeling the moment the door opens. Most likely from the fact there was a dead body on the floor.

"Alex," Helen acts rushing forward to his body. I can tell she's acting, because obviously she doesn't care beyond a failed mission. She makes a show of trying to wake him up during which I spot her hands checking his pockets. "Wake up," she pleads.

I can't believe how desensitized I've gotten to death. I don't care that this guy is dead. Sure I didn't know him but I don't even feel the slightest bit sad. Another thing Cerberus has done. I decided being stoic is the best choice for me.

The landlord has long since called the police and emergency services. "Not that it'll do any good," he comments seeing how limp this 'Alex' was.

"Guess I've got a sad letter to write," I say walking over to Helen.

"Alex," she cries.

"Drama queen," I whisper, "you might be overdoing it."

I make a show of putting my hands on her shoulders, "Got it," she whispers. I lead a 'crying' Helen out of the building.

She stops the moment we're through the door, police and emergency services file past us. "Wow they're fast," I remark seeing them.

"Let's go," she grabs my arm and pulls me along back to the shuttle.

"What's wrong," I ask, after I sit down.

"They're too fast," she mutters as we lift off.

"You know you're paranoid right?" I laugh.

"Just because your paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you," she says checking the rearview camera. "We're being followed."

"There're hundreds of shuttles flying around they could just be going the same way," I suggest.

She takes a sharp sudden turn, illegal and bolts down an intersection. I've never been so scared in my life. They stay on our tail. "They're following us."

"Got it," I say weakly. I hold on for dear life. For some reason the song, 'Jesus take the wheel' plays in my head . . . that was one of my mom's favorite songs.

Ok changing to chase music. We swing around another building, straight into oncoming traffic. "Truck," I shout seeing on of the massive semi like vehicles come flying toward us. I scream as Helen swings around it expertly. She despite being in some highspeed chase thousands of feet in the air, and dodging hundreds of cars has the time to look over at me with a look of superiority in her eyes . . . oh no she knows I'm afraid of . . .

She does a barrel roll. "I swear when we land your gonna get it," she dives almost 90 degrees straight down. I feel weightless as we cut down through traffic. She pulls up and we take off again.

I glance over my shoulder, "We lost them," I exhale a sigh of relief.

"We lost them back at the truck," she informs me.

"You bi-."

She does another barrel roll cutting me off. "Come on it's fun," she teases. Great now she knows my weakness . . . I'm afraid of car chases thousands of feet in the air with a crazy woman driving.

"Women drivers," I mumble.

"What was that," she asks finally in a position to threaten me.

"Nothing," I answer quickly.

We speed off toward the space port, our ship and a briefing with TIM.

"Dead," TIM asks. Sitting in his customary chair, in his suit, and smoking.

"As a doornail," I answer. "I didn't see any obvious wounds," I look back at the image. "Guessing poison."

"The information," TIM asks.

"Got it," Helen says.

"Very good," he doesn't give anything away does he. He speaks in a perfect monotone, and never moves.

"Anything else," I ask testily. I got the job done so I figured I was allowed to be a little annoyed.

He pauses and looks at me those creepy, robotic, blue eyes staring through me. Like he was reading my every thought. I felt like I was Darth Vader talking to Sidous, and should be kneeling and saying 'Yes master.' I didn't like that feeling. Though the analogy might fit.

"I can understand your aggravation," he says mechanically. No he can't. He's just trying to placate me for some reason . . . that's right Shepard's gonna wake up soon, and if he has me then that gives Shepard that much more reason to listen. "But you cannot make contact with the quarian."

"Her name's Tali," I interject. I cross my arms, "I'm losing my motivation to work for you."

"Helen," TIM gets her attention, "leave."

"Sir," she nods and walks out. She glances at me as she passes, 'special treatment?' her eyes say.

I hear the door slide closed. "You are free to leave my organization at any time," he mirrors Helen's words from earlier.

And that's where he's got me, I was caught once and truth is I was afraid of what would happen if I was caught again. "I don't feel free," I respond. "I've been doing my job with a near hundred percent success rate," I add. "I think I should get some kinda reward for that."

He seems to think something over, "No," he answers simply.

He knows I won't leave . . . so he's taking advantage of me. Fine then . . . I'll end him too.

"I'm reassigning you," he informs me.

"Where," I ask.

"You don't need to know," he cuts the connection. God I hate his guts.

AN: And so ends the first chapter!

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