John Shepard was pulled from peaceful sleep by the sound of an Asari radio crackling to life. The commentator was ranting about Solheim Industries Colonization Projects, or something… The Commander grimaced and opened his eyes to stare at the calming mauve ceiling of the honeymoon suite. No matter where he was in the universe, it seemed that he would never escape the demons of commercial enterprise.
A slender hand, so perfect it could have been sculpted from alabaster, reached across his vision. A blue aura surrounded it for a moment as it clenched into a fist. Shepard heard the radio crumple up, spitting sparks. He chuckled, "They're going to make us pay for a new one."
The woman's soft Australian accent filled his ears, "I do recall specifying that we weren't to be disturbed..."
Shepard turned his head to the side and smiled at his executive officer. The brunette beauty was lying beside him, lost in the soft mattress and Asari bed sheets. The Zesmeni Hotel boasted the finest experience available for citadel visitors, and Shepard had spared no expense. He watched the woman silently, drinking in her soft curves. The grandiose sight of the serpent nebula through the window behind her only helped. He realized this was one of the rare occasions when her hair wasn't absolutely perfect. It was messy and tangled, scattered in all directions. He brushed some of it aside to reveal her face. Her eyes were half shut, battling sleep. Feeling his hand gently brushing her face, she sighed contentedly and let her eyes shut.
"Do we have a plan for the day?" he asked, letting his hand tour a little. She didn't seem to mind.
"Sleep." She mumbled, sinking back into the twilight zone.
Shepard couldn't blame her; the bed was soft, the suite dark and peaceful. For the first time since Shepard had awoken in a Cerberus laboratory, there was no immediate goal in sight. The collectors had been defeated, the Normandy's crew saved, and the base destroyed. The time had come for some well-earned R&R
"I have to see the council later." He told her.
He took a deep breath, "I don't think you should come along."
Her eyes opened slowly, revealing her sparkling blue irises. Her expression wasn't one of anger, but of caution and curiosity, "Because of my employment with Cerberus?"
"You quit." He told her, "I know, but the council will still hold it against you."
She leaned forward and pressed her silken, delicate lips to his own, capturing him in a soft kiss, "Why do you keep trying to convince them, John?"
"Because when the Reapers come, I want to be able to say 'I told you so'." He answered between kisses.
Miranda laughed, pulling away, "I'm sure the Turian councilor will still tell you he's dismissed the claim."
"That's when I'm going to punch him in the face." Shepard replied, pulling her back, "Or shoot him, possibly."
"So if not me, then who?"
"Samara, and Mordin, probably."
He smiled, holding her close, "That goes without saying, doesn't it?"
"Clever. One member from each of their own species. They may listen to Samara, at least." She sighed, "Or maybe not…"
"Probably not." Shepard murmured sourly, running his hands through her hair, "But I still have to try."
"Well get to it, then. I'll meet with you later for breakfast."
She watched as the scarred soldier reluctantly slipped out of the bed and onto the plush carpeted floor. The skin on his chest and back was covered in scars of different types. Burns, gunshot wounds, and other lines. All of them had happened after Project Lazarus. She wondered vaguely what he'd looked like before. She knew Elysium had left him with more than a few nasty scars, but those had disappeared after the first Normandy's explosion. Now he had different scars, and when she looked hard enough ,she could just barely make out the orange glow of the sub-dermal robotics and artificial elements Cerberus had needed to revive him.
Miranda herself was an incredibly beautiful woman. Her father had designed her to be. Yet John Shepard was quite a handsome man in his own right. He had blond hair, a strong jaw, hard blue eyes, and a well-muscled figure. Unlike Jacob, Shepard's was not the musculature of a man who believed in keeping himself looking his best, but rather the musculature of a man used to exhausting physical labor.
He dressed himself in a simple black suit with a gray tie, showing obvious discomfort with the light civilian costume. Miranda had to admit, it looked strange on him. She had only ever seen him in either combat armour, or a Cerberus uniform. Civilian clothing did not fit his presence, nor his demeanor. He hardly looked like the same man who had stood toe to toe with the reaper larvae not three weeks before.
Shepard paused at the door and gave her languishing form one last look of longing.
"Go." Miranda ordered.
Shepard nodded and disappeared, probably to track down the other three team members. She felt a small amount of anger at being left behind, but couldn't deny his reasoning. He was going to have time enough just trying to juggle the shady reputation of Mordin, and the rebellious Garrus Vakarian.
Miranda activated her Omnitool, lighting up the large bed in an orange glow. She pressed a few of the holographic buttons. Immediately, the apartment filled with the sweet, slow swells and long tones of the adagio movement of Neilson's fifth. She rose and retrieved her robe from the nearby chair upon which it had been hastily and haphazardly deposited the previous night.
The bathroom of the honeymoon suite was an enormous cathedral-like space complete with showers, a Jacuzzi, and plenty of counter space. White pristine towels hung were folded perfectly and fit neatly into little shelves along one wall. Another shelf held at least fifty different types of soaps, bath salts, oils, and 'cleansing products' as the advertisements liked to call them. John really hadn't spared any expense. Knowing him, he had probably talked the hotel into giving him a fairly sizeable discount. The suite's architecture was undeniably Asari, with soft curved walls, subtle, yet beautiful colors, and clean surfaces.
The former Cerberus operative turned the taps and let steam fill the room, fogging the mirrors. She ascended the steps up to the Jacuzzi and hung her bathrobe on a handy hook. Then she descended into the hot water, enjoying the music, and letting the steam clear her sinuses. It was a complete and extravagant change from the stale recycled water which spurted from the plain showerheads aboard the Normandy, although that was probably the point.
When she'd had enough of soaking, Miranda had a cool shower with a few of the more traditional soaps and shampoo. The sudden change between hot and cold water left her feeling raw and thoroughly clean. With practiced hands, she wrapped her long black hair in a towel and set it in an elegant beehive-like knot atop her head.
She donned the pristine white robe, stepped back into the maim section of the suit, and tried not to feel guilty about her current conditions. Considering the types of lives she'd seen people lead on Omega and Tuchanka, there was plenty of reason for guilt.
The main room made up of several different sections, each portioned off by subtle purple curtains which could be open and drawn closed at will. There was a luxurious sitting area with a minibar, a kitchenette in one large alcove, and the unnecessarily large bed in another. Miranda crossed to the minibar, feeling the thick carpet between her toes. It reminded her a little too much of her father's home. She didn't blame John. He was trying his best to reward both of them for a job well done, but Miranda experiences with this sort of high living had never been happy ones. She grabbed an empty wine glass and poured herself a drink.
A thin data tablet on the nightstand beside her bed beeped. Miranda picked it up and entered her passcode. A message came up:
OR: Guess where I am!
Miranda smiled and typed in a reply:
ML: No idea.
ML: Really. I've been out of the loop for a little while.
It had taken a good two weeks to get the Normandy up and running. They'd been stranded on the wrong side of the Omega 4 relay all that time, completely cut off from the rest of the galaxy.
OR: The Citadel!
Miranda paused a moment, sipping her drink. She frowned and tapped the keys.
ML: So you made the list, then. I told you politics and history wasn't so boring.
OR: Yeah. It paid off I guess. U said u were out of the loop? Where were u?
Miranda sighed, remembering the giant Reaper Larvae. She still sometimes awoke seeing nothing but its glowing eyes bearing down on her. She could still remember the helplessness she'd felt, sliding down the platform, and watching John leap after her without any hesitation. She remembered the fight to get that far. The intensity and the gunfire. The fear… her fingers found the scar on her abdomen, courtesy of a lucky collector.
ML: I'm sorry.
OR: Where R U now?
OR: Floating around Omega?
ML: Try a little closer.
ML: The Citadel.
OR: R u serious? Omg thts amazing we gotta hang!
ML: My thoughts exactly.
So I guess you could call this a sequel to Watchdog. It's an R&R story, or at least it'll start that way.
For those of you waiting patiently for the next chapter of Fallout 3: Aqua Vitae, don't worry, it's coming. I've run into a bit of a roadblock in Sarah's section and I'm trying to sort through it. I made the mistake of getting into a little show called Chuck. And also Mass effect 2 again… obviously...