It was fairly obvious that some of the crew only sang 'for he's a jolly good fellow' to Luke out of the desire for Shepard to buy them another round. Even if some of the crew was still suspicious, it was an excuse for another party, and their last night on Zetti would be their last chance to party like that for quite awhile.
Shepard had already given everyone their assignments. The next few months would be hard ones. It was a time to try and gain support through any means they could. The Alliance was still furiously trying to figure out what to do with Shepard, and she was sure that landing on the Citadel would cause some sort of incident with the Batarian Hegemony at the very least. So she gave orders. Quiet ones. Cut ties with Cerberus after draining the accounts - every credit would help. Reach out to old mercenary friends. Tali had a long message to the Admiralty Board already planned out in a stirring speech, Grunt had a list of all the favors he could call in from Wrex on Shepard's behalf…
Kasumi, however, was the most excited. Mostly because as soon as they had docked to the small Cerberus shipyard station, Shepard had told her to go wild. By the time they were out of here, Kasumi would have casually pilfered all the interesting-looking bits of tech. And the third lieutenant's coin collection. And that nice-looking painting on the third floor.
After all, it wasn't every day the galaxy's greatest hero patted the galaxy's greatest thief on the shoulder and told her to do what she does best.
But there was a more pressing reason they were all here. Shepard stood with her hands behind her back in the wide docking bay, letting a tiny sigh past her lips as she looked up. The glass windows distorted them a bit, but she knew what was going on. Samara's eyes may have even been a little teary as she gave Luke one last hug goodbye. But they had to part, and they did.
Shepard met Luke as he came out of the elevator, and he gave her a tired but genuine smile. "Ready to go home?" Shepard teased.
He grinned. "Yeah… I think I am." He paused to look around the wide docking bay. A ship was off to the side - larger than a standard-issue Kodiak, though to Luke's eyes it was more along the size of the Millennium Falcon, perhaps a bit smaller. There was also a very familiar looking TIE fighter, its design modified from standard and wickedly sleek. Old scorch-marks from battles long over stood out on its hull like scars. Luke knew it instantly. It was his father's.
"Isn't Miranda coming to help with this?" He seemed a little anxious, peering around.
"Nah. She handed it off to someone else." Shepard caught his frown. "Don't take it personally, kid. She just hates you a little, that's all. …and yeah, I know it makes no sense. But it's for the same reason she hates me."
Luke gave her a Look, the sort of one deserving a capital L.
"Jesus, I wasn't going to say it's because of our stunning good looks," Shepard laughed before sobering somewhat. "No, it's because we just remind her of her failures. I dunno, I talked with her once before about it. She thinks her life is dictated by her genes, and compared to me - the little nobody spacer kid - she has all the advantages, yet I'm the one out saving the entire galaxy or whatever."
Skywalker shook his head. "I think you're forgetting that she probably thinks I'm just riding my father's coat-tails. So I guess we're alike to her in that way."
"Well…" Shepard paused. "It was a thought. Could just be that she's genuinely busy."
Truthfully, Shepard knew exactly why Miranda hated Luke. It was because he was charming, good-looking, and most importantly, was the genetic carrier of some amazing new force that this galaxy hadn't yet seen. Even with the family history of mental issues, he was the perfect candidate. Or at least he would have been. As it stood, he was a harsh reminder about her own failure and inability to bear children, and of how her desire to be a mother would be unrealized.
In any case, there was no time to summarize that (even if Shepard could think of a way to do it). A short young man in Cerberus uniform was jogging up to them, and gave them both a salute. "Commanders Shepard and Skywalker? I'm Lt. Juspeczyk, I've been put in charge of this handover."
"Good to meet you Jusp…" Shepard took a breath. "Juspecz… shit, I am so sorry."
He blushed a little, reaching up to rub the back of his neck. "It's fine, Commander. Most everyone can't get it. Just call me Julep."
"Julep? I bet there's a story about that nickname," Shepard said with a grin.
"Just some being reckless on shore leave, that's all," he admitted sheepishly, though he looked somewhat cheered when even Luke smiled at him. "But… yes. The Yukon-model ship has been retrofitted with a secondary propulsion system that functions the same way the fighter's does - hyperspace, I think the term supposedly is? But both also have the prototyped system which should allow cross-universe travel." He chattered to Shepard as she walked along, admiring the Yukon-class ship. Skywalker seemed to be distracted, eyes being pulled to his father's fighter across the way. "Cargo space has been sacrificed for a large set of memory banks - there's lots of basic information about what's going on here, of course, some sample blueprints, and more than enough processing power for a copy of EDI to come along. …I'd recommend keeping the virtual shackles in place this time, however."
Shepard shook her head a little, mentally making a note to disable them as soon as possible. The ship's ramp was down, and she could see a flicker of blue from just inside. "Hello, Shepard." Yes, that was definitely EDI's voice. "I hope you do not object to my inviting myself along, as it were."
"Hell, of course not, EDI! Always happy to have you." Shepard grinned. "Though… this is a different set of runtimes than on the Normandy, right?" She squinted in thought. "I suppose that means you're more like… EDI's daughter. …EDI-ette? What sort of parallel works best there?"
"All current runtimes and data will be re-integrated into the Normandy's system upon our return," EDI said smoothly. "In other words, Commander, don't worry about it."
Shepard gave a sigh of relief followed quickly by a grin, and looked up into the small cargo bay of the other ship. It was mainly banks of computers now, but that was a small sacrifice. "Cozy. Should be more than enough for three."
"Only two," Skywalker said very quietly behind her.
Shepard turned with a blink. "Is there some reason you don't want Garrus to come? I mean, there's enough room for dextro stock, and -"
Luke shook his head. "No. I mean…" He gestured across the cargo bay. "I'd like to take my father's fighter."
Her eyes widened momentarily. It was a strange request, but there was a certain odd logic to it. "Just make sure you've got your IFF codec updated and everything. I don't want to see you blown to pieces by your own people, that would be really embarrassing to explain."
"Of course. I'll be flying Rebel colors, don't worry," he said, grinning.
Juspeczyk coughed. "Well, there's… a bit of a problem there -" The Cerberus officer sighed. "The way we've been able to get the trans-dimensional multi-layered pulse-core - " He paused. "Slingshot drive. That's what it's nicknamed anyway. With the slingshot drive, there are three variables to the destination - place, universe or dimension, and time. If you have a firm place and dimension, that means the third variable is going to slip. You can program a jump slightly differently, but I'm afraid that means some chance of ending up in the middle of a sun or planet…"
Shepard grimaced. "What kind of slip are we talking about."
"Not an incredibly large one." He shrugged. "The maximum we've recorded with probes is… two, three days? Sometimes it's within hours or even minutes. It's just a variable you can't fully control. The mathematics dictates that it's highly unlikely it's going to be more than a month, so there's no chance of suddenly being stuck there for twenty years or something, but…"
"If it's only a few days, that's fine," Skywalker said quietly with a soft smile.
"You sure, Skywalker? It's no trouble to fit you on board this thing…"
"No, this is… it's something I've got to do," he said with a quiet conviction. "Besides, I have a point mapped out near the outer rim where there's a rebellion outpost nearby. It's secluded enough that we can just wait around for the other person if there's any substantial time difference."
Shepard considered this for a long moment and nodded. "All right. If you're fine with the risk, then I am." She stepped away, surveying the ship from the outside once again.
Juspeczyk quickly started talking again. "There's dextro food supplies on board as well as equipment, food stores… about a month's worth, all told. Also a small armory of retrofitted guns that have stable heatsinks - longer-lasting than ones you've had before, but they can still overheat if you keep up heavy continuous fire. In short, Commander, she's ready for your trip."
"Except for one thing."
The Cerberus officer stood a little straighter, eyes going wide, obviously worried he had missed some crucial detail. As Shepard paced back and forth, Luke swore he saw the other man break into a cold sweat.
"She needs a name."
EDI's voice floated to them from Shepard's omnitool. "May I suggest a reference to the beaches during the Normandy invasion, as to reference the Normandy SR-2? Names include Utah, Sword, Gold and -"
"No, no, no. This isn't a military ship, this is my ship." Shepard grinned. "Let me see… Nah, that's too obvious…." She wandered back and forth with a swagger before finally snapping her fingers and pointing at the ship. "I got it. Proud Mary."
The Cerberus officer stared at her blankly, and Shepard shrugged. "What? It's from a song that gets stuck in my head all the time ever since my mother enrolled me in that choir group focusing on hits from the twentieth century…" She looked a bit sheepish, quickly interrupted by a shout from near the elevator.
"Shepard! We ready to leave?"
"Yeah, Garrus, we were just waiting on your spiky ass to get here!" She teased with a large grin before looking back to Skywalker. "Are you absolutely sure, Luke? You know it's no trouble…"
"I'll be fine," he said firmly. "And thank you."
"Well then… see you on the other side, kiddo," she said, patting his shoulder with a grin.
There were a few more things to load in, of course, but Shepard couldn't help but pause and watch Luke climbing into the small fighter. The seat was a bit too large for him, and the controls weren't quite what he was used to. But he settled into it anyway.
Shepard couldn't think of anything other than a toddler trying on his father's far-too-large boots.
By the time the cargo bay doors opened to reveal the velvet blankness of space, pre-flight jitters had set in again, and Shepard was pacing back and forth in the small cockpit. Garrus chuckled a little to himself before catching her lower arm with his hand. "Hey - sit down, relax. This is going to be just fine."
"Yeah, yeah," she sighed, draping herself over the other cockpit chair but not actually sitting in it. "Just worried, that's all."
"You worry about everything these days."
"Well, yeah. That's my job, isn't it?" She gave the turian a lopsided grin, looking out over the haptic display. The ship's new name was already correctly identified in its codec, but it took her a moment to recognize the other small dot on the screen. Luke had changed the fighter's name from a generic, Cerberus-assigned number.
Instead, it was now the Inheritance. Shepard gave a small, soft smile at this before standing up.
"Coordinates and equations are set up and ready, Shepard," EDI's voice smoothly chirped. "Jump can now be initiated at your command." Shepard was busy staring out the small window, rocking from heel to heel as if about to pace again. Garrus's hand, however, hovered over the button that would send them… well, somewhere. On an adventure, certainly. Back to the universe that was Skywalker's home.
"…as I'll ever be, I guess. Hit it."
((AUTHOR'S NOTE: Hi everyone and sorry to interrupt! I am getting back on track with this story - ME3 was both a distraction and a disappointment, and I've been going through crazy personal life stuff. Anyway, more to the point...
I apologise in advance for what I can only call a douchebag move, but I'm actually starting the third in this trio of stories before I finish this one. I'm hoping that it means I can keep myself motivated on BOTH stories, and have Thy Rod and Staff finished before I get into the meat of the last of the series.
So, yes, please feel free to throw rotten tomatoes at me, but the last in this ME/SW crossover series, 'The Valley of the Shadow of Death', is about to have its first chapter uploaded.
Thank you so much for reading and putting up with me!))