Salvation: A Half-Life/Mass Effect Universe Fan Fiction
Disclaimer: This fan-fiction takes place after the events of both Half-Life 1 and 2 and its episodes, and jumps to the events after Mass Effect 1 and 2. If you have not played or beaten these games this fiction may not make much sense to you. Characters property of their respective companies, Half-Life created by Valve and Mass Effect created by Bioware.
Chapter 44: Light after Darkness... (Part II)
"I can hardly believe it either, but it's true!" Tali exclaimed, as she and Shepard walked together, with their arms around each other's backs. "The Admiralty Board and the geth are convening later tonight, on-board the Flotilla, for the treaty signing!"
The Commander walked with a slight limp, as Tali helped him along, holding him closely. He had loosened his dress uniform's collar a bit, and unbuttoned his formal jacket allowing it to freely flap in the breeze. They walked together, down a long runway, towards the distant Normandy, on an airfield behind the ruins of the EVIS.
The airfield was buzzing with activity, as hundreds of ships of multiple origins lined the various runways. Sparks rained down in flurries, as machinery and repair crews worked diligently all around, trying to bring the vast array of vessels back to working order. Everything from small manned fighter ships, to larger frigates and cruisers.
The Normandy's gleaming, silver, form sat in an open space between a badly damaged Alliance Cruiser, and a small Turian Gunship, exhibiting little more than cosmetic scarring. Three mechanics, wearing Alliance jumpsuits, worked a large, mechanized platform, as they examined the newly repaired starboard engines, and stabilizers, while similarly dressed personnel stood by on the ground below.
"No geth has ever set foot aboard the Flotilla, but if the signing goes well, we'll even be able to start recolonizing Rannoch!" Tali exclaimed happily, exhibiting all the excitement of a child in an amusement park, as they continued along. "I know it'll be hundreds of years before we can adapt again, but this means so much for my people!"
"Hehehe..." Shepard laughed cheerfully, at Tali's exuberance. "Well, peace is being made... The Reapers are dead... The vorts have been accepted by the rest of the galactic races... And the Citadel Fleet has taken the remaining vorcha into custody... Even though they don't remember a thing since being indoctrinated..."
"But not bad, all things considered..." He declared with a grin, as they walked. "I'd say our job here is pretty much done..."
"Don't you wanna stay and help with the relief effort?" Tali questioned, a bit surprised, as she turned to look up at Shepard.
"Tali..." He began with an exaggerated sigh. "Any other time I'd say yes... But after what this crew has been through, I think they deserve a nice... long... vacation..."
"All on the Cerberus account..." He said with a snicker, as he looked at her with a sly smile, and squeezed her tightly. "I'm thinking... the five star resorts, and sandy beaches of Lycuna..." He slowly waved an extended hand out in front of him, painting an imaginary picture for her, as he envisioned it.
"We could take one of those luxury Star Cruises!" Tali suggested - the excitement in her voice returning, as they approached the Normandy. "Waited on hand and foot, twenty-four hours a day, as we drift aimlessly through the stars..."
"Plus, I hear they're very romantic..." She said in a lighthearted voice, squeezing Shepard's arm, and resting her head against his shoulder, as they walked - bringing a warm smile to his face.
The ship's hangar bay door hung open, with its ramp extended down towards the ground. Ever the responsible second in command, Miranda was already waiting at the ship. She stood on the ground, at the base of the ramp, looking down at a datapad in her hand nodding, as she conversed with one of the servicing mechanics.
A few feet away from her, a young, pregnant woman, in her mid to late twenties, waited timidly in the shade of the Normandy's massive fuselage. Her skin was rosy, and her cherry blonde hair was curled up into a bun, sitting on top of her head. She had a slender figure, clearly visible even despite the large, rounded bulge that hung off her belly, where she carried her unborn. She wore a dark gray breasted, long black dress, with long, dark gray sleeves. And at her feet, rested a large, metallic case of some sort, about the size of a foot locker.
"Commander." Miranda called out, diverting her attention away from the mechanic for a moment, as Shepard and Tali walked towards the ramp.
"...This woman wanted to speak to you." She informed, as she turned and pointed a stylus in her hand towards the gingerly young lady. "I told her she could wait until you arrived."
Shepard glanced over in her direction, as Miranda pointed her out. She looked up at him, although bashfully trying to keep her eyes down, so it wouldn't be obvious that she had noticed him. There was an apprehensive expression on her face, reflecting a mixture of reluctance, and sorrow, as she held her clasped hands together, over her fruitful belly.
"Alright. Thank you, Miranda." Shepard acknowledged with a nod, giving Miranda license to go back to her discussion and duties.
"I'll see you inside." He said, as he turned to Tali, pulling her closely, and giving her a quick peck on the side of her faceplate, before letting her go.
"Okay." Tali nodded, as she briefly caressed his shoulder, before proceeding up the ramp, into the hangar bay.
"Miss...?" Shepard called out, as he approached the timid woman. "You wanted to speak to me?"
"Commander... Yes..." She affirmed, in a soft, reserved tone of voice, as she turned to face him although still reluctant to make eye contact.
"M-My name is Vera Verner..." She began. "You don't know me, but you knew my husband..."
"Your husband?" Shepard furrowed his brow a bit, as the surname suddenly rang a bell. "Verner... Verner..." He said to himself, as he tried to place the name.
"Yes..." Vera replied, as she bowed her head.
"What do you mean 'knew'...?" The Commander questioned in a placid tone, despite being fairly certain of what she meant.
Without placating him with a verbal response, the young woman simply looked up at him, with a countenance of painful sorrow and lament, as tears welled up in her eyes, and her chin, and lips began to quiver.
"I'm so terribly sorry for your loss...." Shepard said in a hushed voice, trying to offer comfort to the grieving widow, as a feeling of remorse came over him, and his expression.
She sniffled, and nodded, as she wiped the tears away from her cheeks with her fingertips.
"He wanted to volunteer at one of Alliance Outposts, before the attack came..." She continued, in a trembling voice. "I begged him not to go... And for once, he listened to me... We went to St. Abraham's. An old hospital just outside White Forest. The news said it was a safe house..." A whimper grew in her voice, as her chin quivered, and her eyes flooded over once more...
"I'm sorry..." She whispered, as she looked away, and clenched her eyes, forcing a stream of tears to come pouring out.
"No, please... It's okay..." The Commander absolved, as placed a hand on her back, hoping to give her an ounce of comfort.
Vera wiped the teardrops off her face, with her palm, before she turned back to face him. Her eyes were still glossy, and red, as she fought desperately to hold back further tears.
"We were in the basement when those... THINGS... attacked..." She continued, bowing, and shaking her head. "All I really remember are fires, and a bright red light, as the ceiling started caving in on top of us... We ran for the stairs, and managed to make it out... But a lot of people didn't..."
"When we got outside, we could still hear people screaming down below..." She said, sneering her face at the thought of the horrific memory, as Shepard listened intently. "I remember he turned to me and said... 'I gotta help them, Vera! I gotta do it!'... And that's when he ran back inside..."
"I see..." Commander Shepard responded, in a hushed tone, as he suddenly understood.
"But he came back out!" Vera exclaimed, a proud, but mournful expression on her face. "He came out of the smoke carrying two little girls... Sisters..."
Shepard's eyes opened wide in stunned amazement.
"But there were still people inside..." She continued, shaking her head, with a bit of resentment. "I begged him not to go back in again... But he went in anyway... And again he came back out! This time, with a woman and her dog... HER DOG!" She yelled out, showing both resentment, and woe...
The Commander clenched his lips, and nodded, as he continued to listen.
"After he came out the second time, he could still hear a woman screaming below. But the building was collapsing... I begged him not to go anymore... I begged him! But he said he had to... That if it were me in there, he couldn't live with himself. And he couldn't just leave somebody to die, without trying to save them... So he ran in again..."
She said in sobbing voice, as she clenched her eyes shut, and began to weep uncontrollably.
"But he never came back out..." Shepard finished for her. "Did he...?"
With her head bowed, she simply shook her head, and continued to whimper and sob softly, as her tears began dotting the floor.
"I'm so sorry..." He offered, gently rubbing her back, wishing he could some how grant her the comfort she so desperately needed.
After a few moments, she looked up at him her eyes red, and glazed over with fluid, and the tracks of her tears marking her cheeks.
"I know why he did it, Commander..." She said in a whimpering voice. "Because everything he did... All he ever wanted to be, was like you..."
Shepard bowed his head, as he remembered his encounters with the ambitious, but somewhat misguided Conrad.
"He adored you, Commander..." Vera continued, as she slowly calmed down. "When I heard your speech today, I decided to come and tell you what happened... I think he would have wanted you to know that... That he died a hero..."
"A true hero..." Shepard affirmed, as a knot crept into his throat. "And he'll be remembered as one..."
"I also came to give you this..." She said, as she looked down at the metallic case at her feet, and started to bend over.
"No no! Please..." Shepard urged abruptly, putting his hand up to stop the pregnant woman from bending down. "Allow me..."
He crouched down, unlatched the two metal locks, and pulled open the lid. Shepard's eyes opened wide for a moment, when he saw the contents of the box.
There inside, snugly placed amidst a bed of custom fitted foam insulation, was a full set of N7 Special Forces armor. Boots, leg plates, chest piece, gauntlets, shoulder pads, helmet... Everything. Right down to the insignia, and the red stripe. Although each piece showed a few signs of wear and tear; dings, scratches, and the occasional dent it was very well cared for. The polished armor glistened, and was smooth to the touch, from multiple coats of wax.
As Shepard studied it, he remembered the last time he bumped into Conrad, when he saw him wearing it. It was at the Eternity Lounge, on Illium. Sure, he was rubbing a few people the wrong way, and grating on the nerves of one quick tempered asari bartender but in his own bumbling way, he was trying to do good in the galaxy.
"It was his most cherished possession..." Vera said. "I found it when I went back to our apartment, yesterday... Ironically, one of the few buildings in the city still standing... Heh..." She let out a small, grief stricken laugh... "I think he would've wanted you to have it..."
"It works, it's completely authentic..." She explained, as Shepard stood up, although still looking down into the box. "Believe me, I know... He practically spent our entire life savings to buy the thing..."
With his hands on his hips, the Commander stared down at the armor, biting down on his clenched lips, as he breathed a long, drawn out sigh through his nose - touched beyond words by the gesture.
With a humbled look in his eyes, he glanced up at the young woman, unsure what to say. Just then, his focus came down to the unborn she carried over her stomach.
"Conrad's child...?" Shepard questioned mildly, as he nodded towards her belly, before looking back up at her.
"Oh..." Vera uttered, as she looked down and placed her hands over it. "Yes..." She smiled warmly, as she softly caressed the developing infant. "It's a boy... I'm due in five weeks..."
"It's the only reason Conrad finally stopped gallivanting across the galaxy, pretending to be you..." She said with a titter and a sniffle, as she looked at Shepard with tears in her eyes, and a smile on her face. "We were finally going to settle down..."
Shepard stood silently for a moment - contemplating, as he looked back down at the armor.
"I think you should keep this..." He suggested, as he looked back up at the grieving widow.
"If your son inherits any of his father's heroic nature... And it's a good bet that he will... Then he may need it someday..." Shepard affirmed, gently nodding, with his hands on his hips.
"Who knows, I may even be recommending him to the N7 Academy one day..." He said with a grin, as he shrugged his shoulders, causing Vera to giggle a bit, under her breath. "And if nothing else... It'll be a cherished memento he can proudly remember his father by..."
"I suppose, I hadn't thought of it that way..." Vera said humbly, with a bowed head. "Thank you, Commander..." She smiled as she looked up at him.
"I should probably get outta your hair, though... I'm sure you're very busy, and those two look like they've been waiting to talk to you for a while..."
Shepard turned around, as Vera motioned with her head at someone behind him. A few feet away, on the opposite side of the ramp, a bald headed woman covered in tattoos, and a drell, wearing a metallic cast around his lower left leg, much like Shepard's own, sat huddled close together, on a long, metal crate - laughing and conversing with each other, as they waited.
"Oh..." He uttered, before turning back around. "Well, do you have somewhere I can take this for you...? A vehicle?"
"No, I came by RT cab..." She refuted politely. "But thank you Commander, I can manage. It's not as heavy as it looks."
"Well the least I can do is order a cab for you..." Shepard affirmed, as he brought up his omni-tool, and started punching in a few holographic keys.
Once he finished, he looked up towards the sky, waiting for one of the few cars passing by, in the streams overhead, to descend on their position. Normally, the skies were a bustling network of aerial traffic, but right now only a few sparse vehicles took to the air. Just then, one dropped down, out of the lanes, and slowly floated down towards them.
As it reached the ground, a few feet away, its door swung open, upwards. Before giving her the chance to do so herself, Shepard bent down, closed the lid on Vera's metallic case, and securely snapped the locking clamps back down. He took hold of the two handles on the side, and stood back up, with case in hand.
N7 armor is designed to be light weight, for maximum mobility. But although it may not weigh what most would expect to it, just by looking at it it still was a rather hefty box. It surprised him that she managed to carry this herself, all the way. Shepard lugged it over to cab, and slid it into the rear compartment. That's when he noticed the two wheels on the bottom edge of the case.
"Thank you, Commander..." She said, smiling warmly at him, as she carefully climbed in. "I appreciate your help..."
"It's my pleasure, Miss Verner..." The Commander acknowledged respectfully. "And you have my sincerest condolences... Again, I can't tell you how sorry I am, for your loss..."
"I miss him..." She whispered. "But I couldn't be prouder of him... Good bye, Commander..." She looked up at Shepard, and smiled, as the cab door came down, and sealed shut.
Shepard took a step back, waving through the window, as the cab slowly lifted off the ground, and reascended into traffic.
The Commander shook his bowed head mournfully - breathing a despondent sigh, as he turned around, with his hands on his hips, and walked back towards the ship's ramp.
"Hey, Jack... Thane..." He called out, as he approached the couple, still sitting amorously together, on the long, hefty crate. "Nice to see the two of you in pleasant company..." He assured, snickering with a grin, as he saw Thane's arm hanging around Jack's shoulders.
"Arashu has been good to me, Shepard..." Thane affirmed, happily. "What more can I say?"
"I just discovered I got a thing for frog legs..." Jack scoffed playfully, as she caressed the back of Thane's head.
"Heh..." Shepard chuckled, happy to see the newfound couple. "Well, I'm glad. And I think we're just about ready to head out..." He said, looking up towards Miranda, who was now standing at the top of the ramp, still looking over her datapad.
"Actually Commander..." Thane began reluctantly, as he and Jack stood up, causing Shepard to turn back. "That's what we wished to talk to you about. We're not coming with you..."
Shepard raised his eyebrows, a bit surprised by the news, as he listened.
"The Reapers are defeated... Our mission is complete... And I think this is a good place for the both of us to start over..." Thane said, as he looked at Jack.
"Yeah, we decided to stay and help with the rebuilding..." Jack added. "Hehe, I mean what better way to start rebuilding a shit pile of a life, than by rebuilding a shit pile of a planet..."
"Hmhmhmhm...." There was a moment of mutual, awkward laughter, as the three of them chuckled briefly.
"Well, it won't be the same without you two..." Shepard assured, crossing his arms. "Especially you, Jack..." He said with a smile. "But thank you... For everything..."
Shepard stepped forward, and extended a humble hand towards the drell. Thane reciprocated - clutching Shepard's hand firmly, and proudly shaking it. "It's been an honor, Commander..."
"The honor was mine, Thane..."
Shepard nodded, as they released hands, before he turned to Jack, and extended it once more. "Jack..."
Jack looked down at his hand.
"Ooh..." She griped a bit, with a scowl on her face, as she debated with herself about something.
Without warning, she suddenly lunged forward, past Shepard's extended hand, and threw her arms around him. "Thank you, Shepard..." She whispered, as she hugged him, and gave him a peck on the cheek.
After a very brief embrace, she released him - clearing her throat, as she backed away. "And if you ever tell anyone I did that, I'll tear you in half!"
"Hehehehe...." Shepard laughed. "I'll miss you, Jack... Take care of yourselves..."
"Farewell, Commander..." Thane said in a soft voice, as they turned around to walk away.
"Hey, cheerleader!" Jack yelled out, stopping and turning her head up towards Miranda.
Surprised a bit by her name being called, Miranda diverted her attention from the datapad, and looked down at Jack.
"See ya around..." Jack shouted, in a gracious show of peace.
"Take care, Jack..." Miranda requited...
Commander Shepard stepped onto the ramp, and walked up - releasing a long sigh, as Thane and Jack slowly strolled away together, into the distance.
"How we doin', Miranda?" Shepard queried, as he reached the top of the ramp, where she stood in the hangar bay.
"Ship is fully fueled, and all repairs are complete, Commander." Miranda answered, presenting him with a stoic salute.
"Good... Then lets get underway." Shepard ordered, as he started walking into the hangar bay.
"Wait!" Miranda abruptly replied, causing the Commander to turn, and look at her. "We can't leave yet. We're still waiting on Dr. Freeman..."
Shepard looked at her for a moment, observing her apprehensive countenance. She shrugged her shoulders a bit, with a dubious grin, trying to mask her true feelings, but he had already recognized them all too well...
He turned towards the ramp, and took a few steps forward, gazing out at the airfield. Alliance crews continued to work around the clock, hauling massive components, and towing entire ships across the runways, as dusk slowly began to set in.
He breathed a quick sigh, as he brought his hand up to his ear. "Dr. Freeman, do you copy?"
He pulled his fingers away, as he waited for a response. But the only one he got, was from the mocking crackle of static.
"Dr. Freeman...?" He tried again, to no avail.
Shaking his head, he turned back around. "I don't think he's coming, Miranda..." Shepard affirmed, with a disappointed shrug of his shoulders. "He's earned his rest..."
Miranda bowed, and nodded her head, as she unknowingly embraced the datapad, and clutched it tightly, to her heart. She turned around, and despondently walked in to the hangar bay, as Shepard took a few steps towards the ramp control.
With a quick sigh, he pressed a switch, causing the ramp to slowly begin to retract. No sooner had he pressed it, than a voice unexpectedly chimed in his ear.
"Yeah, I'm on my way!" Gordon responded, causing Shepard to immediately switch off the closing ramp, with a grin. "Sorry I'm so late. There were some old friends I needed to say goodbye to..."
Shepard looked out, as a lone RT Cab began its slow descent from the sky. The humming sound of the cab made Miranda turn around, and her eyes lit up as she watched it land, outside.
Shepard slowly walked down towards the ledge of the ramp, which had been lifted about two feet from the ground, as Gordon swept his omni-tool across the cab's dashboard terminal.
"Thank you..." A monotonous voice, from the cab, graciously expressed, as Gordon stepped out. "Have a nice day..."
Gordon looked up at Shepard, who stood on the edge of the slightly raised ramp, grinning with his arms akimbo on his hips. Gordon reciprocated a slight smile, as he walked forward.
Shepard extended his right arm down towards Gordon, as the physicist reached the ramp, who reached up, and grabbed it in turn.
"Commander..." Gordon said cheerfully, as he raised his foot, and placed it up on the ledge of the ramp.
Both of them groaned a little, like elderly men, from their injuries, as Shepard reeled his arm back, and helped Gordon pull himself up.
"Hello, Dr. Freeman..." Shepard greeted genially, as the two shook their already clutched hands. "Glad you decided to join us."
"Glad to be here, Commander." Gordon assured, with a firm nod and a big grin. "Where I belong..."
Just then, as the two released hands - Gordon turned and looked into the hangar bay, spotting the black haired, soft skinned, voluptuous figured, Cerberus Operative, staring back at him with a gleeful, yet somewhat reserved smile.
"You know, you sorta left me high and dry on a speech I gave earlier..." Shepard remarked, feigning annoyance, as they walked up the ramp, into the hangar bay.
"Did I...?" Gordon replied obliviously, his eyes fixated on Miranda's as he walked towards her. "That's good..."
Shepard grinned as he immediately took note of the two gravitating towards each other like oppositely charged magnets.
"Hmhmhmhm... Yeah, and we're about to set a course straight into the center of a red giant!" He exclaimed jokingly, stopping as Gordon continued forward.
"Looking forward to it..." Gordon replied, completely heedless.
Shepard chuckled, as he pressed his fist against the ramp switch again, causing it start retracting once more.
"Hello, Dr. Freeman..." Miranda said bashfully, as Gordon slowly walked up to her. "I'm happy to see you again."
"Ms. Laws... Miranda..." Gordon stuttered, as he began nervously. "There's something I've been wanting to tell you... I've recently come to uh... That is to say that I... For you... You know... Feelings. And all that that entails..."
Miranda laughed a bit, as a flattered smile came over her expression at how hard he was trying.
"W-What I'm trying to say is... I don't want to make the same mistake twice... Uh, n-n-not that I mean you're a mistake...! Argh...!" Gordon griped, as he tilted his head back, and rolled his eyes. "I've never been good with words!"
"Gordon." Miranda asserted, as she grabbed the front lining of his shirt collar, and looked him square in the eye with an alluring gaze. "Has anyone ever told you that you talk too much...?"
"Uh... No. Quite on the contrary, people used to tell me that I... mmm..." The babbling physicist was abruptly silenced as Miranda tugged on his shirt, reeling him in, as she pressed her lips firmly against his. Miranda draped her arms around Gordon's shoulders, as he wrapped his around her waist, and the two simply submitted to a tender, passionate kiss.
A loud thud resounded through the hangar bay, as the ramp door locked and sealed. Shepard smiled as he saw his two impassioned crew members, lost in love's embrace, before turning away, towards a nearby terminal.
"EDI" He called out, summoning her blue, holographic form from the terminal. "We're all set. Take us out..."
"Yes, Commander." EDI acknowledged, before her visage quickly dissipated.
"Jeff, I assure you I am perfectly capable of piloting the ship in your absence..." EDI insisted, from her place on the bridge. "You require rest to recuperate..."
"Nah, nah, nah... I'm fine, EDI." Joker assured through his teeth, as waved a hand out in front of him, and started manipulating his controls.
There was a thick, metallic brace around his neck, attached to two metallic supports draped across his shoulders, holding his neck, and head firmly in place.
"Besides... someone's gotta make sure those Alliance boys didn't hurt my baby..."
The entire ship vibrated, as the powerful hum of the Normandy's propulsion system was brought online, and quickly began to escalate.
"Drive core powering up... Operating at optimum capacity." Joker said to himself, as he checked various systems, and worked his controls for take-off. "Stabilizers working... Engines one, two, three and... four active. Mass effect field generators online... Fuel tanks full... All compartments sealed... Board is green... And all systems are go!"
Four brilliant flares of blue light burned inside the Normandy's thruster engines, as she slowly pulled off the ground. The landing struts retracted into the hull, as the ship slowly began to drift up into the air the flicker in her afterburners steadily growing brighter, and brighter.
"We're off this rock!"
A blinding, cerulean blaze erupted from the Normandy's engines, as Joker eased the throttle up. A powerful thrust, and the Normandy shot forward, with an incredible burst of acceleration, towards the gray blanket of clouds piercing it, and dragging a soft, white, vapor trail behind her, as she broke atmo, and streaked out into the stars...
And so it was... A day came, when crimson lightning split the skies, roaring thunder shook the Earth, and blazes of fire and steel rained down from the heavens. A day when those that nearly wrought forth the annihilation of life itself, were defeated by two mortal men, who stood united by a common goal. Ordinary men, nothing more, who would answer the call to become heroes... But forever rise into the annals of legend...
The words flashed on the holographic screen of a terminal, in a dark room.
The room was large, but fairly empty. The only light, was the brilliant blue hue, spilling in through the large, panoramic windows, from the fiery star dwarf outside. The spotless, metal floors gleamed in the luminance, refracting the light perfectly, like a mirror. And at the window, a steely eyed man, in an expensive suit, stood facing out, with a cigarette in one hand, and a datapad in the other.
"Idealistic fools." He remarked sarcastically, with a grin, as he exhaled a puff of smoke. "They actually pulled it off..."
"And they didn't even need to use this one..." He said, looking down at the datapad in his hand.
Just then, the beeping from his terminal, notifying him of an incoming comm, caught his attention. He turned away from the window, and walked back towards his seat in the center of the dark room. He passed straight through the holographic screen, and turned to sit down, as he pressed a button on his arm rest.
A flurry of static flashed before him, before materializing into the visage of a man, wearing a black Ceberus uniform, accented in white. He was in his early, to mid thirties. He had light brown hair, thinned out from a buzz cut, bronzed skin, and a deep, old scar, running straight down his right cheek.
"Illusive man...!" The operative abruptly acknowledged, stoically presenting a salute.
"Agent Three Forty..." The Illusive man began, as he shook the excess ash off his cigarette, into his armrest ash tray. "Was your crew successful in retrieving the package?"
"We're retrieving it now, sir..." The operative affirmed, as he placed his hands behind his back. "But are you sure you want us to go through with this?"
"Of course..." The Illusive Man answered confidently, without qualm. "I thought I already made my intentions perfectly clear to you, Agent Three Forty... Don't let the shortsightedness of the Alliance deter you. Think of what this will mean for Cerberus... For humanity...!"
"Understood, sir!" The agent acknowledged obediently. "Will continue with retrieval as planned! Agent Three Forty, out!"
The image buzzed into a crackle of static, before fading away into nothingness. The Illusive Man's gleaming blue eyes pierced the darkness, as he brought his cigarette to his mouth, and inhaled. The embers on the tip of his cigarette lit up, painting his face in a dim, orange glow, before he pulled it away, and blew a concentrated stream of smoke out through his mouth.
As the cloud of smoke began to encircle his head, he lifted his opposite hand back up, the one still clutching the datapad tightly, and looked down at the dossier once more:
SHEPHARD, A. CORPORAL
SUBJECT SHEPHARD AWAITING REACTIVATION.
ON STANDBY AT SONARA ALPHA CONTAINMENT FACILITY
"Well..." The steely eyed illusion said to himself - crushing his cigarette out into the armrest ashtray. "I might be able to find some use for you after all..."
[:::Connection Lost. Data feed has been terminated until further notice. Goodbye.:::]
Author's Special Request: And so ends SλLVλTION. My epic "What if" tale. I tried to do both games as much justice as I possibly could, and portray their respective heroes as the legends they were meant to be. Games I adore... At this time, I'd like to request, that anyone who's been following this story, please leave me a comment or a review. Be it praising, or damning, just please let me know what you thought...