A/N: Oops, I kinda forgot to upload this here. It's an ongoing collaboration between me and BlackLion310 from deviantArt about Miri's adventures before and during ME3.
"Come on, you bloody piece of junk..." Miranda muttered, irritated by the slow information download from a Cerberus computer.
If this keeps up, I'm going to have to cut it short, or risk being captured, she thought, gripping her gun, as she glanced towards the only door leading in and out of the room.
"Ah, Miss Lawson..." Miranda closed her eyes, silently cursing her luck, at the sound of the voice, coming from a holopad behind her.
She turned around only to see the man she hoped she wouldn't see until it was time to put a bullet in his head. "Illusive Man." She said, as she leaned on the table that was now behind her, crossing her arms over her chest.
"I must admit, I am impressed as much as I am disappointed." He paused to pull a smoke from his cigar, before continuing "I am impressed that you managed to come this far all by yourself, but I am disappointed that you still refuse to see the bigger picture."
Miranda just snorted "I believed in you and your cause, and even when I didn't agree with your methods, I still supported and defended you. But you crossed the line when you started using Reaper implants on your troops."
She raised herself to her full height, towering over the medium-sized hologram of the Illusive Man "Even after we both saw what those implants did to Saren, even after all the evidence of how strong was the Reaper indoctrination... I mean, the whole Cerberus cell became indoctrinated by a dead Reaper! And you still..." She took a deep breath, as she realized that she began shouting "... You are the one who disappointed me."
The Illusive Man took another lungful of smoke, exhaling it, before answering "I am sorry that you feel that way Miranda. I had such a high hopes for you... But if that's how you really feel, then I guess we have to part our ways. It was a pleasure working with you..." He reached with his hand, probably pressing a button that Miranda couldn't see, and a moment later there was a thundering noise, coming from the other side of the complex, and a strong explosion-caused earthquake.
Miranda stumbled around a little, before she managed to grab a hold of the table, that was luckily bolted to the floor, to steady herself. As the quakes stopped, she glared at the Illusive Man, who waited for the noise to die down, so he could speak normally, and not shout "But, as you probably guessed, I have to contain the situation. Don't worry, Oriana will be safe under your fathers supervision."
"You bastard! If either one of you lays a hand on her..." Miranda snarled, losing her cool at the mention of her sister.
But the Illusive Man cut her off "Goodbye Miranda. We won't meet again." He said, terminating the connection.
"Damn it!" She slammed her fists on the holographic projector.
Another explosion, closer than the first one, reminded her that she still needs to get the hell out of the facility.
Just when she closed the connection with the computer, the door burst open, and two Guardians blocked her way out.
I don't have time for this, she thought as her biotics flared, and she used Pull on their shields, leaving them vulnerable. Before they had a chance to react, she sprinted towards the exit, gunning them down in the process.
As she raced through the hallways, she could feel the explosions getting nearer. Luckily, there were no more troopers in her way, since she killed most of them in this part of the facility, while getting in.
A sword appeared out of nowhere, going for her throat, and she barely managed to raise the barrier in time to deflect it.
Phantom! Just what I needed!
She tried using her biotics, to gain a little distance from him, since she knew she was no match for a Phantom in a hand-to-hand combat, but the powers she used just rolled around him.
The Phantom de-cloaked, throwing punches and slashing at her, and because of his superior agility, Miranda knew that the only thing she could do was to try to keep her barrier up long enough to retrieve her gun from where she dropped it while blocking his first attack.
He apparently realized what she was trying to do, as he swung his sword at her with one hand, while using the other to destroy her gun with his hand-canon.
Another explosion, dangerously close, disrupted the Phantoms balance, and while he stumbled, Miranda managed to wrestle the sword from his hand, using it to impale the acrobatic assassin, spinning, turning her back to him and thrusting the sword next to her body, right through his guts.
Leaving the sword in its owners chest, Miranda resumed her trek towards the exit.
She reached the elevator just in time, since the moment the door closed, the corridor she was in a second ago exploded, denting in the door.
Miranda slumped down, against the wall across from door, exhaling heavily and closing her eyes, as she waited for the elevator to reach the ground floor.
When the elevator finally stopped and the door opened with some difficulty, she was met with the sound of cocking of the weapons.
She warily opened her eyes, and thought, Really? Again? annoyed by the sight of at least a dozen of Cerberus troopers, all aiming their rifles at her.
Miranda raised her arms in the air, apparently in surrender. But by the time the troopers noticed the faint blue glow around her hands, she already dropped them down, making one of the shuttles to slam right on top of them.
Exhausted by the amount of energy needed to lift something as big as the shuttle, especially after being forced to outrun a blast, killing a phantom on her way, she dropped down on her knees, trying to catch a breath.
Few moments later, willing herself to get up, she examined the other shuttle, and when she was satisfied by its condition, she went in, and got the hell off of this planet, towards the small, hidden ship, she had waiting for her in orbit.
Onboard, she told the next coordinates to the pilot, who owed her a few favors, before she locked herself in a cabin, that he was gracious enough to borrow to her. Nope, threatening to flay him with her mind if he didn't do what she told him, didn't have anything to do with that.
When she was certain that she had her privacy, she copied all the files she managed to get from Cerberus, from her omnitool to her computer.
Most of the files were on indoctrination process. It seemed like the Illusive Man was interested in how indoctrination works, which made sense, since that is one of the greatest threats they face, when dealing with Reapers.
What got her attention, was the mention of her last name in one report.
"Lawson would be ideal candidate for the head of Sanctuary project." She read that one sentence aloud.
What does that mean? Am I the Lawson he speaks about? I don't see any other possibility, but then why didn't he make the offer, before trying to kill me, just now? Except, maybe... Just maybe... But no, father cut all ties with Cerberus when the Illusive Man accepted me into the organization. But then again, he did mention that Oriana would be safe with father... She thought confused, her mind buzzing with million questions, and not a single answer.
Deciding to drop this for now, she closed all reports and opened her messages. There was one from Oriana, and two from her contacts on the Citadel and Illium.
She opened Oriana's message first.
Just checking in, since I haven't heard from you in a while. You are making me worry here.'
Miranda scoffed. She is worried about her? But she allowed herself a small smile, thinking how alike they were, even if they had vastly different upbringings.
'Remember that guy I told you about? Danner Gossimah? Please don't freak out, and don't you even think of doing anything to him, but, well, we are kinda... together.'
Hmph, I guess I'm going to have to have a talk with this Danner, just to let him know a few things about Ori.
'Randa, I am serious. I know what you are thinking, I'd probably think the same. You can take care of my security and all the dad-related stuff, but not my personal life.'
Yep, too much alike for my taste. Miranda thought frowning.
'Anyway, just wanted to let you know everything is fine, and those three guys you have watching us, are not suspicious AT ALL. I mean, really? Wherever I go, I see this salarian, watching news from his omnitool, or a human and asari, pretending to be couple, always averting their gazes, chuckling and discussing something funny, when they notice I'm watching them? Really Randa? Is that the best you could find?'
Miranda smirked at this. So, she noticed my decoys? Good, I'd be worried if she didn't, since they are like elephants in a glass store, when trying to be subtle. But that's not the reason they are there. They just need to keep her safe and out of trouble until Lanteia and her squad arrive.
'All jokes aside, be safe sis. I just found you, and I couldn't take it if something happened to you.
Miranda smiled as she finished reading the message. She debated if she should send her a replay, but decided against it, since there wasn't really anything she could tell her.
Instead she read the messages from her contacts. On Illium, everything was quiet, but there seemed to be some kind of Cerberus movement on the Citadel. I will have to check that out, but first, I need to get to the Omega.
Omega... What a pisshole. Miranda thought disgusted, wrinkling her nose in a grimace at the foul stench that was attacking her senses.
The situation on Omega got even worse, since the Illusive Man chased Aria away. But the chaos that still ruled the station after the coup, made things a little easier for her, since there was still no real security, so she could move around undetected, if she was careful enough.
Well, it would have been easier, if she was meeting anyone other than the person that waited for her, in Afterlife.
''Cheerleader, you came! I must admit, I'm surprised! Didn't think you'd even open the message from lil old me.''
''Jack.'' Miranda greeted the tattooed woman, who was finishing her drink at the bar. ''You may want to keep your voice down, seeing as Cerberus would be very happy to have both of our heads.'' She hissed, taking a seat next to the convict and ordering a drink, that she had no intention of drinking.
''Bah! Let them come! I will tear them all apart!'' At that, Miranda could see heads turning their way, with hushed whispers and raised eyebrows following. She had to fight the urge to bind and gag the convict, since that would make things even worse, especially since Jack is stronger biotic than she is. But not every fight can be won only with brute strength.
''Why did your bring me here, Jack? Right now, even the Citadel would be safer for us, than Omega.'' Miranda asked, annoyed, but genuinely interested in what Jack wanted from her.
"It's interesting how, even if more than half of the fuckin' station is in ruins, Afterlife still runs as if nothing happened." Jack decided to ignore the question, instead, commenting on the state the Omega was in.
"It's just the Illusive Man's crowd control plan. Let the general population drink away its days, until Cerberus has them in iron grip." Miranda said "It's actually a genius way for their troops to reorganize, without any major incidents, now that they chased off Aria."
"Figures. Nice outfit, by the way." Jack snickered, checking Miranda's new looks "It looks so… Wild, I guess. Never thought I'd ever use that word when referring to you."
Miranda just rolled her eyes "I see you have decided to spice your styling up, too." She said, referring to Jack's now longer hair, and a little more covered torso.
"Yeah well, as you said, the Omega is dangerous for us, had to play it safe while here." Jack said uninterestedly looking around Afterlife.
"You, playing safe? I doubt it. I believe this is more Shepard's influence, then the need to hide." Miranda said, smirking knowingly.
"Believe what you want. Like I care what you think…." Jack scoffed, waving Miranda off.
After that, they sat in silence for a few minutes, Jack drinking and Miranda watching their surroundings for any sign of danger.
''I need your help. Well, I need your contacts in Alliance.'' Jack said finally, not looking at Miranda.
''Oh? What for?'' Miranda asked, now intrigued.
''Remember the data we discovered on Pragia? About surviving kids...?'' Jack waited for Miranda to confirm that she knew what she was talking about, and when Miranda nodded, she continued ''Then you remember that Shepard mentioned that they were now in Ascension, which was the Alliance program, in Grissom Academy.''
After another short pause, Jack finally looked at Miranda ''Well, I want in.''
Miranda just raised one eyebrow at the statement, prompting Jack to continue.
''I want in, to make sure the kids are OK, and to help them get over the events they had endured on Pragia, if they are not fuckin' fine, just like Shepard helped me. I need to keep an eye on them... I need to protect them, and to make sure they and all the other kids are treated right, since everyone knows that even the fuckin' Alliance can be brutal in their fuckin' trainings. I will never let anyone live out the horrors I had endured, not if I can stop it.''
Miranda was surprised and impressed, at the influence that Shepard had on Jack. She knew that the convict would never have even thought about risking her life to protect some kids, before she met Shepard. And now she wanted to work for the Alliance, like she wasn't one of the most wanted criminals in the whole Milky Way.
''I will see what I can do to clear your name and get it on Sanders' potential employee list, but then you'll be on your own.'' Miranda said, her face clear of any emotion, since she knew that Jack would have taken it the wrong way if she saw how proud Miranda was at her growth, and newfound ability to ask her for help, even though, just yesterday, she was ready to tear her head out.
She may have said to Jack that what happened to her wasn't Cerberus' doing, not really, but she still felt kind of responsibility for the young woman, especially after Jack saved her life on Aite.
Besides, Shepard believed in her from the beginning, when she was just another wild card. I guess I trust Alex enough, to have the same faith in Jack as she does.
''That's all I need.'' Jack said, relief evident in her voice, as Miranda rose from her seat.
"I need to go now, make the necessary calls... I will notify you when it's safe to go and see Sanders." When Jack waved her off, turning around towards the bartender and ordering another drink, Miranda rolled her eyes and turned to leave.
"Hey Cheerio?" Miranda stopped, turning enough to look at Jack over her shoulder, while the convict still had her back to her "Thanks."
Smiling, Miranda decided not to respond, so she resumed her trek towards the exit and her shuttle.
Next stop: the Citadel.
After she made the necessary calls to get Jack a clean slate, Miranda also arranged a meeting with one of her contacts from Alliance on the Citadel.
She was standing on the balcony of the hotel room, where the meeting was supposed to take place 5 minutes from now, leaning on the balcony railing, and taking in the beautiful sight of the Presidium.
I wish Shepard was here. It's just... She should be able to enjoy this view, not me. I am the terrorist, while she is the hero. But I guess we live in a twisted world where heroes are treated like terrorists, and terrorist are given free reign.
She was disrupted from her thoughts by the sound of door opening. Checking the time on her omnitool, she spoke "Right on time, Captain Shepard."
"Miss Lawson." Captain Hannah Shepard of the SSV Orizaba greeted Miranda like she was a well known acquaintance, if not a friend, shaking her hand. Miranda had no idea why, but the woman seemed to trust her enough not to turn her in, even though she had plenty of chances for the past three months, while Shepard has been locked away, and Miranda herself on the run.
She suspected that that had something to do with the fact that the Captain knew Miranda and her daughter were more than friends. Either way, she has been a huge asset for Miranda.
Well, let's get straight to business. Miranda thought, as she offered Captain Shepard the drinks.
"Captain, you said there were sightings of some less known Cerberus operatives on the Citadel?"
"Indeed, and more than usual. I'm afraid they are preparing for something, and I don't know what. But I'm sure you can find out." She sat on the couch, taking the brandy Miranda offered her, with a nod of gratitude.
"Why me?" Miranda asked, a little confused. I mean yes, I was the Illusive Mans right hand, but I've been out of the loop for more than four months, so Shepard probably knows more about their operations in Council space than I do. The data I acquired few days ago only contained the information about operations in the Terminus System.
"Because most of them were identified, while meeting with Henry Lawson." Hannah sipped her drink, gauging Miranda's reaction to the news.
"My father? What has he got to do with Cerberus?" Now she was completely confused. Miranda Lawson didn't do 'confused' very well, so she needed to get to the bottom of this Cerberus/Lawson business, and fast.
"We are not sure, that's why I need you to find out." Miranda sat in the comfy-looking armchair, across the table from the couch where Shepard was, thinking about what the Captain just said.
"You already know something, don't you?" Shepard asked, even though it sounded more like a statement than a question.
"I... Have some leads, but I'm not sure yet where they would take me. I need to think this through, before I act." Miranda was reluctant to share anything with the Alliance right now, without the concrete evidence, but she needed to give them something.
At this, Hannah Shepard unexpectedly smirked at Miranda "Not something you were doing a month ago, from what I've heard."
Is she referring to...? Oh for the love of... I am going to kill Shepard for this! Unable to keep a small blush at bay, Miranda averted her gaze from the still smirking woman across from her "I can't believe she told you that."
"Oh she didn't have any choice, not when I mentioned the moans I heard out of her room when I came to visit." At this, Miranda's blush deepened and Shepard's smirk grew even wider. Miranda couldn't help but notice the similarities she had with her daughter.
And then Miranda's face paled "Wait, does that mean they know...?"
"That Alexandra loves watching loud porn? Yes, indeed, that was something she enjoyed since her teenage years." Hannah chuckled at the memory of her daughters squirming when she confronted her with this, and Miranda sighed in relief.
"And don't worry, your secret is safe with me, especially since it wouldn't serve anything other than destroying what's left of Alexandra's career, and we can't have that. We need her, and you, and people like you, who have any sort of knowledge on the Reaper tech, because, even though the Alliance branded you a criminal, I know you will do whatever is in your power, and I know that even without Cerberus resources, you have hell of a lot power, to stop the Reapers. Just like Alexandra will, when they finally release her."
It's rare for Miranda Lawson to be at loss of words, but after the little speech the older Shepard just gave her, she just couldn't find any.
"I must go now, my ship is scheduled for departing in an hour, and I need to monitor the preparations." Captain Shepard got up from the couch, and moved towards the door, before she stopped, and turned to face Miranda, who also got up from her armchair.
"Thank you for the brandy. I hope I can count on you to find out what we discussed." She said with an impassive face, Business mode is back on, as Alex would say, Miranda thought as she nodded.
"Of course, I will look into that immediately. If Henry Lawson is working with Cerberus again... Well, I can't keep running from him anymore, I guess."
"Indeed. Have a nice day, Miss Lawson." And with that, Hannah Shepard left the room, leaving Miranda alone with her thoughts.
She resumed her earlier position on the armchair, a glass of brandy in hand as she thought over what she just found out. What are you up to, father?
Few moments later, a beep from her omnitool got her attention, and she smiled when she read the message she got. I guess next time I see Jack, I'm going to have to call her 'Professor'.