As Miranda Lawson entered the cavernous office, a shiver of fear ran through her perfect body. The rational part of her mind catalogued the signs: the speeding up of her pulse, the erect hair along her skin, the shortness in her breath. As best she could, she brought them under control, but given the circumstances, it was understandable that she’d be afraid.
Reporting to the Illusive Man was an intimidating enough experience in and of itself, but most of the time when she paid her boss a visit; she had some new success to report. Not this time. This time, the entire Normandy project had blown up in her face and Miranda wasn’t certain what would be left of her career, to say nothing of her life, when and if she exited his office.
The Illusive Man was seated in his usual chair, a cigarette between his fingers, its flame providing one of the few bits of illumination in the dim room. As Miranda approached, he took a long, slow drag, letting both smoke and anticipation hang in the air while the brunette walked towards him, not speaking until she had almost closed the distance between them.
“Operative Lawson.” His voice was measured and calm. If he was angry, he wasn’t letting it show just yet.
“Yes, sir.” She tried to keep her own voice level as well. He had no tolerance for weakness. “How can I be of service to you?”
“I’ve been reviewing your report on the Shepard situation but I wanted to get your assessment of the mission in person. How would you rate its outcome?”
She had to tread carefully here, to remind the Illusive Man that she hadn’t failed entirely while not angering him by downplaying what had gone wrong. “Well, sir, it was successful in some aspects, less so in others. We were able to destroy the Collector Base and escape with only the losses of Zaeed Massani and the Geth platform known as Legion. Given the opposition we faced and the lack of reliable intelligence we had regarding the target beforehand, that has to be considered a significant accomplishment.”
“Certainly.” He wasn’t denying her success, but he wasn’t willing to dwell on it either. “Now, perhaps you’d care to elaborate on your failures.”
“Obviously, the fact that Shepard has left our service and taken the Normandy with her represents a significant set-back. If you will permit me to say so, sir, it may have been a mistake to have included so many non-Cerberus elements in the crew. When she made her move, Operative Taylor and the other loyal elements on board the ship had no chance to resist her superior forces.”
The Illusive Man’s face tightened and the anger that he had clearly been holding back started to boil towards the surface. “It was not my intention that it would be necessary to resist her by force, Operative. According to the mission parameters, you and the people under your command were supposed to secure her loyalty. It is a task that you abjectly failed at, and I am curious as to why you think that is.”
Miranda started to reply, but something in the Illusive Man’s gaze stopped her. Instead, she stood silently at attention as he ran his cold, blue eyes up and down her flawless form. It was one he was intimately familiar with. Miranda had had sex with him several times in the past and though she had enjoyed the experiences, she wasn’t naïve enough to think that her body gave her a hold on him. His true passions ran deeper and darker than mere physical gratification and now, there was no lust in his gaze, just a hard appraisal of her body.
He tented his fingers. “Clearly, you haven’t suffered any disfiguring injuries since the last time you were here.”
She wasn’t certain what he was getting at. “No, sir. I would have mentioned them in my reports if I had.”
“Of course you would have.” He took a drag on his cigarette. “You are obedient, if nothing else.”
She bristled at the condescension implicit in his statement, but said nothing. She was on thin enough ice as it was; better to just go along with him for now.
“Then tell me why a woman blessed with your superb physical gifts failed to seduce someone possessed of the voracious appetites that Shepard has.”
In spite of her best efforts to control her reaction, Miranda swallowed hard, the motion clearly visible on her bare throat. “I’m not sure what I can tell you, sir, that isn’t already in the report. Shepard proved more stubborn than we had anticipated. She was clearly attracted to a number of the women on-board the Normandy, but in spite of that interest, she was able to resist long enough for other circumstances to intervene.” Other circumstances. That bloody asari. She cursed silently at the thought of her.
“Indeed,” he agreed. “Of course, yours was not the only failure associated with this mission.” The Illusive Man’s hand flicked over a control and behind him, a vid screen switched on. The images stood out clearly in the darkness and Miranda saw a team of Cerberus doctors gathered around a table on which lay a naked woman covered in tubes and other medical equipment, the devices enveloping her like a sinister cocoon. Miranda herself had been in such rooms countless times, but the woman laying there now was not Commander Shepard, but instead, Yeoman Kelly Chambers, lately of the Normandy SR-2.
“Like you, Miss Chambers had a simple assignment that she failed to complete and I was forced to terminate her existing contract. A temptress that fails to tempt isn’t very useful to me.” He took a final puff on his cigarette before crushing it out in the heavy, stone ashtray on his desk. “Still, that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t able to find another place for her here at Cerberus.”
“Miss Chambers has become one of the volunteers for the Nemesis project.” A doctor pressed a control and Kelly’s supple body twitched and writhed, sweat dripping off of her flushed skin, but the woman remained eerily silent in spite of the excruciating pain she must have been in, restrained by some unseen force. “Sadly, the program is still in the beta stage and some discomfort to the subjects is inevitable.”
Miranda fought down the urge to wretch. The bubbly yeoman had been a favorite of hers. She had even sampled her charms herself in order to confirm that they’d be sufficient to entice Shepard, and watching her reduced to a test subject was horrible enough, even without the implied threat that it could easily be Miranda suffering such a fate. Her only comfort was that she still clearly had another chance; if the Illusive Man had already decided to do that to her, she’d be on the table next to Kelly already, not watching the video of her suffering.
“Of course,” he continued blithely, shutting off the screen, “Miss Chambers didn’t have the track record of success that you do with this organization. After all, it was her failure to assess the depths of Shepard’s attachment to the asari, Liara T’Soni, that helped land us in this predicament.”
Liara T’Soni. When she had come to visit Shepard aboard the Normandy, Miranda had hoped that her visit would be just the thing to deliver the commander fully into her hands. Every time Shepard had spoken with the asari in the past, the Spectre had left the encounter more sexually frustrated than ever, more vulnerable to the temptations that Cerberus had to offer. She’d been near her breaking point already and one more push seemed like it might have done the trick.
Instead, everything that Miranda had spent years planning had unraveled in a single night. When Shepard reemerged after Liara spent the night in her cabin, Miranda had realized almost immediately that it was over. That damned suit rat Tali’Zorah had disabled the surveillance devices in the commander’s cabin, but Miranda didn’t need a vid to know what had happened between them. Gone was the mountain of accumulated frustration that Miranda had spent months carefully cultivating, replaced by a contented smile and a light spring in her step.
“Miss Chambers certainly did underestimate that relationship, sir. You may recall I presented you with the option of simply getting rid of the asari before we finished resurrecting Shepard in order to prevent such a complication from arising.”
“And I rejected your suggestion. If Shepard suspected that we were behind Doctor T’Soni’s death, it would have eliminated any possibility of winning her over to our cause. Now, though, it has become necessary to adjust our plans. The first step of course will be to remove the asari from her position as the new Shadow Broker. I have already set those plans in motion, but they are only the beginning of what we have to do. The details are waiting for you in your room.”
She silently exhaled. “Thank you for the opportunity to correct this mistake, sir. I guarantee you I won’t fail a second time.”
“I would think that you won’t, Operative Lawson.” Miranda turned to leave, but before she made it more than halfway to the door, the Illusive Man stopped her with a final message. “Oh, and Miranda, in addition to the briefing packet, you should also find an updated report on your sister’s new living situation on Ilium. I thought you would be comforted to know that we are keeping extremely close tabs on her welfare. I wouldn’t want anything to happen to her any more than your would.”
Seven months later…
Liara’s naked body was pressed up against the glass of the door. As the Spectre thrust into her from behind, Liara cried out her pleasure, her hands gripping the shower bar to keep herself from falling over. Her pale blue skin, always smooth, was positively slippery from the water covering it, and as Shepard’s hands ran over her lover’s full hips and soft ass, she could feel herself approaching her breaking point. The warm wetness of the information broker’s azure and the sight of her painfully hard cock, glistening with Liara’s arousal, sliding in and out of it was pushing her beyond the edge of her self-control.
With one hand, she reached between her lover’s legs, and her strong fingers found Liara’s swollen clit, pressing against it as Shepard’s cock pushed even deeper into her azure. Liara’s eyes became dark pools and as the walls between their minds collapsed and Shepard felt her lover’s blissful sense of fullness, it was too much. Clutching her beloved tightly against her body, she let go, jet after jet of her come filling Liara even as the asari fell into orgasm with her, bliss washing over both of them, reflecting back and forth…
With a grunt of pleasure, Shepard came, her hand stroking a cock made slick by the combination of her pre-come and the water of the shower as she spilled her release into the drain. She sighed deeply with relief, but as the fog of her desire parted, she remembered where she really was. It had been six months since that night, since the last time Liara had come to visit her before she went to turn herself into the Alliance to answer for the tragedy at Bahak and warn them about the imminent arrival of the Reapers.
What a mistake that decision had been. Instead of heeding her warnings, those idiots had locked her up here in administrative limbo. For all the good she’d done on Earth, she might as well not have bothered. Maybe if she’d stayed out there, working with her beloved Shadow Broker, she could have done some good. Instead, she was wasting her time answering inane questions. For God’s sake, some of her interrogators seemed to think she might still be with Cerberus.
Fat chance. As soon as she destroyed the Collector Base, she had told the Illusive Man just where he could cram his orders and unceremoniously kicked all of the Cerberus personnel off the ship at the nearest spaceport. Miranda, Jacob, Kelly, and much of the rest of the support staff had been ejected from the ship, though not without a few protests, most notably from Miranda. Screw her. After what she did to Shepard, she was lucky the commander had let her leave without a bullet in her head. How could they think she was still with Cerberus?!
With a cry of frustration, she slammed her palm into the tiled wall of the shower. The shock ran down her arm, and the pain helped her to clear her head a little bit. She took a deep breath, trying to control her anger. As brutally hard as it had been, she hadn’t let Cerberus’ modifications force her to violate her principles, and she wasn’t going to let her captivity drive her to madness either. It was just so hard to feel useless, especially with the Reapers getting closer with each passing day.
Stepping out of the shower, she dried herself off with a plain, white towel before wrapping it around her nude body and heading back out into the bedroom of her living quarters. Lying down on the bed, she stared up at the ceiling, trying to decide how to pass the rest of the day. Lately, the annoyance of her interrogation sessions had been replaced with simple boredom and she was getting pretty tired of spending her time jerking off and playing solitaire.
Pulling up her omni-tool, she prepared to look through the programs there for something to do only to realize that she had a new message. It was from the Alliance of course; they blocked all other communications and this one was marked urgent. “Meeting with Admiral Anderson at 0930,” was all it said. She looked at the time: 0927. Shit. She’d been in the shower longer than she realized.
Tossing off the towel, she hastily dressed, throwing on a pair of underwear, pants, and her uniform shirt, fastening her belt just in time to hear the door buzzer sound. She opened it, revealing the solid form of David Anderson and his face told her all that she needed to know. In spite of the old soldier’s disciplined facade, she could read the fear in his eyes easily enough. He opened his mouth to speak, but she already knew what he was going to say. The Reapers had come.