I’ve Always Loved You

Posted: February 14, 2016 by writingsprint in Uncategorized

For the readers who began following the Daily 400 last year or the year before, someday I promise I’ll post something not related to Mass Effect again. However, today is not that day. I would have posted it at fanfiction.net, but I needed some HTML for part of it. You’ll see. 

Today’s post is a “drabble” for Valentine’s Day that I’m posting in response to the prompt, “I’ve always loved you.” Characters are Shepard and any other character. I decided to post a clip from a story I’m working on periodically about Shepard and Miranda in the second game. It’s one of the big scenes, but I couldn’t resist using it with this prompt. This takes place as they make final preparations before the suicide mission.

Shepard felt the ghosts of the Normandy crew watching him went from team member to team member to check on final preparations. It felt like Alchera all over again, only this time Shepard wasn’t alone walking the hollow decks of the ship. Tali had the drive core humming in harmony, and Garrus had the weapons ready to go blue-hot at a moment’s notice. Shepard entered the armory and found Miranda and Jacob handing out weapons and ammunition to Jack, Grunt and Thane.

Miranda handed Grunt his favorite shotgun. “Remember, keep your back foot down when you fire it one-handed. You’ll stay balanced and can fire again faster.”

“You don’t have to tell me how to kill,” Grunt said with a grin.

“I know I don’t. I just like watching you do it.”

The mountain of scales and muscle actually grinned wider at her, and nodded. Two years ago, Shepard never would have imagined he’d be standing here, on a Cerberus ship, with these people. In a few short months, they’d become family. Shepard didn’t regret a moment of it.

A cloud of soft sadness passed over his heart as he watched Miranda hand thermal clips to Jack. They didn’t exchange words, but they didn’t exchange blows, either. Maybe he had one regret. Shepard wished he hadn’t lost his cool after the Pragia mission, when Miranda and Jack had been arguing. He took Jack’s side; his scars from Akuze ran deep. He’d settled things with Miranda afterwards, but his growing relationship with her had never been the same. They’d gone from hopeful lovers back to arms-length colleagues. The mission hadn’t suffered. Shepard had, in silence.

It was the right thing. Deep down, he was Alliance, and she was Cerberus. They both knew it.

So the hell what, he thought. How you felt about her never changed. She’d always have a piece of his heart.

Miranda approached him. “Commander. We’re ready here. I spoke to Joker a few moments ago. EDI’s handling sensing and intel, and he’s finalizing preparations now. The trip should take us a few hours.”

“Good. Engineering, weapons and defenses are ready.”

Zaeed came in as Shepard and Miranda left the armory to the CIC. “Let’s do this,” Zaeed said, and bumped fists with both Shepard and Miranda as they shuffled around each other through the door. Shepard’s hopes rose a few shots as the Normandy’s war horse began to gird for battle.

After the door closed, Shepard added, “Morale’s high.”

Miranda gave him a small smile. “I’ll admit it, Commander. I’m impressed. You got us here. You turned the most random gang of misfits, killers and knights in shining armor in the galaxy into the most deadly unit I’ve ever seen.” She looked directly at him. “What about their leader? Are you ready?”

Shepard’s heart couldn’t help flip-flopping under her gaze. Shepard wondered if he’d ever get over her. He focused on the job, and knowing she would be there shoulder to shoulder with him. With conviction, he said, “Damned right. I’ve got the best right at my side. We can do this.”

Miranda’s eyes shone. The empty room seemed brighter. “Ever the world-beater. Well, we’ll know soon enough.” They started to split off, Shepard heading for the cockpit, Miranda heading for the laboratory. “I’ll inform you of any changes. Otherwise, we’ll be there in a few hours. Good luck. To us all.” Smartly, Miranda stood tall, brought her heels together, and raised a perfect salute to him. It was a touching, thoughtful gesture.

On reflex, Shepard returned it with his own. A smile broke out on his face. “Civilians don’t salute.”

Miranda held her salute. “I’m not a civilian today. You’ve earned it.”

Shepard’s heart filled up. He didn’t know what to say. He felt pride, friendship and love, three things he hadn’t shared with Miranda at the same time since before Pragia. He wished he could tell her. He wanted her to know.

Shepard lowered his salute. “Thanks, Miranda. For everything.”

Miranda half-smiled at him, a knowing look between friends. “Thank me on the other side.” She started to leave.

As he watched her turn her back, the idea that this was what farewell would look like seized him. He couldn’t help it. The words jumped out of his mouth, “Miranda, wait!”

“Yes?” She looked at him like a friend, not a fellow officer.

Shepard’s heart and brain kicked and fought over what to say. He wanted to tell her what she meant to him, but that ship had sailed. It was absurd. Say something, you dumb ass!

“Look. I know we’re going in separate directions, but I’m glad we were here together for a while. It’s meant a lot. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I…” Right or wrong, Shepard’s brain gut punched his heart, and kept him from saying I love you. He let his breath out. “You’re special to me. Come through alive, okay?”

Miranda swallowed. She nodded tightly. Shepard thought he could see her trembling. “Thank you, Commander,” she said. She turned on her heel and hurried to the elevator. She looked at the buttons until the door closed.

* * *

Moron. Such a moron. What the hell was he thinking?

Shepard went back to his quarters. He walked past the fish, his ball and mitt, his guitar, his pictures, all the things that he normally looked at or played with to bring him back down when he came back too wired from a mission. He sat down on the bed.


For what? Telling her how I felt?

“No, damn it! Well… yeah,” Shepard said aloud. For being fucking self-indulgent when they were getting ready to save their shipmates and maybe their future.

So you let it out. Big deal. I don’t think you went far enough.

Shepard moaned. He could feel what was coming next. His heart had ached for weeks over this, but there’d been enough going on that he’d been able to ignore it.

You didn’t tell her that you love her.

More than that. He loved her. Needed her. In his life. Like the air he breathed.

To his inner voice, Shepard said, “My life is not a romance novel. See those guns? The armor? We’re getting ready for a mission—”

Stow it. What did Captain Anderson teach you? Say what has to be said when it has to be said. Go back down there.

 Shepard took a breath. Think.

Wrooong. There’s a difference between thinking and drumming up an excuse. You don’t have time to play games like this. Tell her.

This was crazy.

Talking to yourself when you need to say something, now that’s crazy. Tell her the truth. In a few hours you’ll need to trust each other with your lives. You want to have this hanging over your head?

 “It’s not about me!” Shepard snapped. To an empty room. Shepard paced. Normally when he felt desperate like this, he’d be grabbing a gun, charging a hill, and solving a problem the easy way. When did he become such a thinker?

Flash memories of every late-night planning session with Miranda jumped through Shepard’s head. He’d always been good at seeing the angles, the map, the field. Setting them up and knocking them down, whether they were assignments or foes. Miranda raised it to an art form. He could think of three times off the top of his head where her planning, her insight, had saved lives. She’d made them better as a team. Made him better as a leader. As a man.

And those were the only times he’d had her to himself.

Shepard chuckled, “Pretty sorry excuse for a date.”

There had been one other time they were alone. Just before they left Illium, on their one date. He’d asked her out for drinks, and they hadn’t talked about work once. It had been the first time in a long time someone had seen him not wearing armor, physically or personally.

Shepard sighed. He missed that feeling.

Sometimes the only thing he could imagine holding him together was Miranda’s arms. The only fire he wanted to feel was the two of them together. He’d dreamed of it. On the nights when he wanted to forget his ears ringing from gunfire and his bones aching from shockwaves, he thought of her arms around him and her breath on his face.

All right, heart. You too, head. Let’s work this out together.

He knew how he felt. He needed her to know. She deserved to know. More than fighting for their lives, Shepard was fighting for a tomorrow with her in it.

He left his quarters.

She couldn’t lose control. Not now. Too much was at stake.

Miranda went straight to her quarters and locked the door. She walked past her desk—her second home, filled with equal parts planning and dreaming—without looking at it. She sat down on her bed.

Damn it. What a damned fool.

Him, or you?

Him, of course! How could he break her concentration like this? They were hours away from the mission! They needed to focus. She gave him one simple gesture of respect and he turned it into—

Something beautiful? A sweet moment?

Miranda paced. She could think through this. Why did this matter now? Stress of losing the crew. Countdown for the mission. Her steps slowed. Feeling the bond of the team coming together. They felt like an awkward family, but a family nonetheless.

It wasn’t how she pictured it, but it was everything she’d ever wanted.

You’ve been missing him for weeks. Missing the way things were.

A warm sensation swept over her as she remembered how it had felt, when they’d finally become friends, and—

Stop it! This is romantic, sentimental waffle! Worthless!

And you love every moment of it. I hate it to break it to you, but you’re a human being. What’s wrong with needing someone?

Miranda made fists in her hair and moaned. “The mission’s too important to let personal feelings get in the way,” she whispered.

That’s what this is about? Really?

“We set boundaries after Pragia.”

We needed them for a while. I’ve hated them ever since. I think he has, too.

She moaned again.

Go to him. You need him. He needs you.

“He already knows how I feel.”


If anyone knew her, it was Shepard. He was the only one who’d taken the time to find out who she was underneath the job, the mission. But it wasn’t enough.

He didn’t know that she wanted to hold him, to make love to him, to show him who she was under the ice. She wanted to dance with him. She wanted him to hear her laugh, really laugh. She wanted to share one moment of peace and kindness in a world of fire and bloodshed. To be with him someplace safe, in each other’s arms.

Miranda reached for the com button on her night table. She looked up at the door. She should just go see him.

She had to see him. Forget doing the sensible thing.

Miranda walked slowly from her quarters. With the crew taken, the mess hall was empty. Her heart pounded with mixed passion and fear. She didn’t know what to do. It was a sensation she couldn’t stand.

Miranda was almost at the elevator. She slowed, and stopped. She gulped. She couldn’t let anyone in the crew see her like this. What if Tali—or worse, Jack—was coming up out of the elevator?

She started to turn back toward her office. Normally, when she was confused, she would bury herself in her work. This time the thought enraged her. No. This meant too much.

Miranda entered the elevator—thank God no one was in it—and keyed the top deck of the Normandy.

* * *

The elevator opened. They stared at each other. Shepard never realized how empty he’d felt without her; Miranda never realized how much her heart could move her.

They met halfway in passionate embrace.

Miranda made a small sound as she felt his lips on hers. It was everything she’d dreamed of: soft, tender and strong, every ounce of it open-hearted love. Miranda sighed, wrapped her arms around him and kissed him back with more passion than she ever expected, opening her mouth and caressing his tongue with hers. She wanted this. More than anything she’d ever known, she wanted this.

Shepard moaned as he felt her breath and her touch. Shivers of pleasure ran all over his body, making him want her even more. Her raven hair felt soft under his fingers. Her body fit against his like they were made to be together. He didn’t want to let go. He would never let go. As the heat rose inside him, Shepard gently nibbled the edge of her mouth. Miranda drew in her breath and pulled him tighter. Shepard felt like he was falling.

Their kiss parted for just a moment, and Shepard said, “I love you, Miri. I always loved you.”

Tears fell like small glittering jewels down Miranda’s face. “I love you too, John.” She sniffed. “Oh my God. No one’s ever said that to me before.”

Shepard kissed her tears away. He whispered into her ear, “I love you I love you I love you I love you…”

Miranda whispered back, “Shut up and show me.”

Today’s prompt: Garrus, James, “you probably shouldn’t eat that”

James stabbed the lizard with his field knife. He skinned the little beast. It still twitched. James jumped the first time and ignored it after that.

“You probably shouldn’t eat that,” Garrus said.

James impaled the lizard on a stick and stuck it over their camp fire. “I probably shouldn’t have lit a camp fire, either, with those elcor after us. But without smoke we’re going to attract rippers. You think angry elcor are bad?”

“My friend, if I was worried about the elcor, I wouldn’t have let you light the fire. The rippers don’t scare me either.”

“What does scare you?”

“You eating an ikki lizard without removing the glands behind its head first.”

James stared at Garrus. Was he pranking him? James sighed. Damned turians all looked alike. He hadn’t yet learned to read when they were happy, sad, or messing with you, other than general body language, and Garrus kept his cool poker face better than anyone. He took the lizard back out of the fire. It had a flat, spade-shaped head, like a snake, with two bumps on the top. James poked at them with an armored glove.

“That’s them,” Garrus said.

“What are they?”

“Notice how they don’t have eyes?” Garrus said. James nodded. “They’re a metallic solution that keeps them oriented against the magnetosphere so they can find their way.”

“Cool. So what?”

Garrus chuckled. “You’re good with a gun, but you really need to learn some chemistry. When that metal hits the hydrochloric acid in your stomach, your belly will go boom like you just swallowed a bomb.”

James snorted. When Garrus’ expression didn’t change, he asked, “You’re kidding, right?”

“If you eat the whole thing, let me hold your med kits. Then don’t worry—I won’t say ‘I told you so.’”

James cut the glands off and resumed cooking the lizard. Garrus leaned back against his backpack and gazed up at the stars. “Much better. Now we can enjoy our evening.”

James shook his head. After they weren’t being chased by land tanks and rippers he’d have to look that one up.

Two Cents on Writing Short Stories

Posted: June 18, 2015 by writingsprint in My two cents, Writing
Tags: , , ,


Recently a good friend of mine wrote his first short story. He came away exhausted by the process and frustrated by some of the thoughtful, though still negative, feedback he received. I gave him a pep talk on just how hard writing a short story is. He appreciated it, so I thought I’d share.

Dude, make no mistake, writing a short story is HARD. Lately I’ve looked at them like sonnets. They have a rhythm to them, and a structure. Yes, anyone can make their own and do it any way they want, but if you take the lazy perspective and say “just write it” — as most people who don’t write will say — it will kick you in the ass.

The trick to writing a short story is to come up with a single problem that could be resolved in the space of a day. Or a weekend, tops, and only if you gloss over the events of the weekend. I know we’ve read longer short stories, but I think the good ones move fast. It’s easier to imagine big, complicated problems that spiral out of control. Fiction is NOT reality. In a short story, things tie together. You want to do this as much as possible to keep your story focused.

A simple short story looks like this:

  • Meet the main character and what they want
  • What they want has a catch — do they really want it?
  • Put the outcome in jeopardy
  • Force the main character to choose: take what they want and pay the price, let it go, or invent another option
  • Wrap up

My favorite short story that I’ve done is Slave Soldier — several of these take place over one or two mini-scenes:

Scene 1: Cartog meets Lord Sestra, who can take away his slave collar
Scene 2: Lord Sestra turns Cartog’s squad into psychos
Scene 3: Cartog realizes his commanding officer won’t help him
Scene 4: Lord Sestra tells Cartog that he and his squad will serve him or else
Scene 5: During their next mission, Cartog arranges for a friendly fire accident to kill Lord Sestra
Epilogue: Cartog meets Darth Jadus. This scene really wasn’t even necessary, though it puts a good bow on the story, especially for SWTOR players.

Start, finish; beginning, middle, end; boom, boom, boom. Small focus is TOUGH. One of these days I plan to write a short story about someone who wants a glass of water, for the exercise. He wants a glass of water… but a little boy wants water too… the plumbing is broken… and THEN WHAT?

For your first short story, you did a bang-up job. Congrats, man!

Image credit: “diary writing” by Fredrik Rubensson at Flickr
Shared under Creative Commons license

Krogan Justice

Posted: June 14, 2015 by writingsprint in Science fiction
Tags: , , ,

Post #10 of the 30-day Mass Effect drabble challenge. Today’s prompt: any Cerberus, Wrex, “haunted;” courtesy of the Mass Effect Random Prompt Generator.

I need you to fix this. You’re the only one who can, Shepard had said.

“I’ll get it done,” Miranda whispered to herself. Yeah, right. All she had to do was convince almost two meters of angry krogan. Miranda channeled every particle of calm she could muster. She’d killed krogan before. She’d faced them alone and en masse. She trembled as she approached Wrex, leader of clan Urdnot. The behemoth was covered with scars from wounds that would have cut her in half, raked into his hide centuries before she was born.

James and Tali stood behind her as she approached his stone chair. Wrex’s rage felt like sweltering heat in the dusty stink of Tuchanka. Miranda had a greeting prepared, but Wrex stood as she opened her mouth, and grunted, “Shepard couldn’t come himself? He sent me you?”

“Shepard is trying to save Thessia. I’m his second in command. If he could be here, he would.”

“He sent me some Cerberus bitch? Do you know what this is about?”

Miranda felt the words like a slow smear of black paint across her face. She would be haunted by her association with them forever. “I’m not Cerberus any more. This is about an experiment called X1.”

Wrex lunged toward her. “This is about a krogan named Urdnot Britak who you people turned into a weapon! Just like the Reapers!”

“Cerberus did this! Not us! Not humanity! Scum that we will hunt down and kill for their crimes!” She didn’t fight this far to break now. She’d fought worse terrors than this. And she meant every word. Wrex’s garnet eyes measured her. Miranda knew this moment could make or break her mission. “There is no time for courts or mercy. The stakes are too high—”

“This isn’t about stakes!” Wrex whipped his hand before her face so fast before her face the wind burn made her eyes tear. “This is about an atrocity! Krogan treated as meat. You want us as allies? You want us to bleed and fight and save your sorry asses? We should leave you people to hang and let the varren pick at your bones.” Wrex’s breath smelled like the sulfurous exhalation of a hell mouth.

He didn’t strike her. He could have taken off her head. This wasn’t over.

James stepped forward. Tali followed him. Miranda held up her hand for both of them to stop.

Miranda replied, “You should. I wouldn’t blame you if you did. But you know it’s death for us all if we stand alone. And you know Shepard.” Miranda stepped eye to eye with him. Wrex was the meanest, toughest krogan in the galaxy. Time to channel her inner Jack. “Let’s make this right. Tell us where you want us to hang the fuckers and we’ll bury the hooks ourselves.”

The corner of Wrex’s mouth turned up. Miranda heard the howl of a varren pack on the hunt in the distance. She saw the sharp edges of fresh scars in Wrex’s face. The swelling of fresh bullet wounds. She thought of the blood and smoke and fire they’d all endured. How much was still to come. She hated the people who’d brought them to this.

Wrex said, “You won’t plant this hooks. We will. You’ll bring them to us. Alive.”

“Alive,” Miranda repeated. She nodded to him, the slow, cold expression of an executioner. She thought of Ezno and Renata. They’d wrap the prisoners in Christmas bows and deliver them with a smile if she gave them the chance.

Wrex sensed it. He nodded, too. He sat back down on his throne. “Looks like Shepard sent the right one to me after all.”

Miranda mirrored his smirk. “Until then, Urdnot Wrex.”

No wave of dismissal, no wishes of farewell. Miranda turned and the team headed back to the shuttle.

James let out a nervous breath. “I think like you exorcised a ghost, boss,” he said.

“Just one,” Miranda replied. She still had plenty left to go.

Post #9 of the 30-day Mass Effect drabble challenge. Today’s prompt: Ashley, Jack, “on the floor,” courtesy of the Mass Effect Random Prompt Generator.

This story takes place in my alternate universe where the Mass Effect 2 team was on the Normandy in Mass Effect 3.

Scorched and pitted, the Kodiak slammed into the Normandy’s shuttle bay chased by massed Ravager fire. Restraining bolts locked it in. Shepard yelled, “We’re in. Go, Joker!”

“Don’t gotta tell me twice, boss,” Joker said. “They’re scratching my girl’s paint!”

Shepard threw open the shuttle’s hatch. He held on as the frigate flew into high orbit over Tuchanka. He had blood on his face, fragments in his armor, and his left leg felt numb from too much medigel. The exhaust from his rifle’s heat sink blew the sweet stench of hot steel and antifreeze into his face. “Mission accomplished,” he hissed.

Grunt, Liara, Jack and Ashley piled out behind him. Grunt started to make a wisecrack but shut up when he saw Shepard’s face. Liara shuddered and moved away. Jack said nothing. Ashley punched the Kodiak as she stepped out. “What the hell were you thinking, Jack?” she snarled.

Jack spun and pointed at her. “Don’t mess with me, Ashtray. I got the fucking job done.”

“You nearly got me killed.”

“I had to warp that Brute’s ass to save your whiny one. You got too close!”

“ENOUGH!” Shepard roared. “Jack! Ashley! On the floor! Now!”

“Get your popcorn,” Grunt whispered to Liara.

Shepard glowered at him. He turned his rage back to the two rowdiest members of his team. “You’ve been at each other’s throats for a week and I’m sick of it.”

“I don’t answer to you, Boy Scout—”

“Don’t pull that civilian crap with me, Jack. You’re here, you’re on the team, you act like it.” Ashley snorted. Shepard wheeled on her. “And she saved your life. Get the hell over it.”


“I SAID ENOUGH!” Shepard glared from Ashley, to Jack. “Both of you. Fight it out. No biotics, no guns, no other rules.”

“Shepard, they need medical attention—” Liara said.

Shepard shook his head. “A few more punches won’t kill them.”

“Suits me fine,” Ashley said.

“Ashtray, fighting that Brute is gonna feel like a massage after I’m done with you.”

The she-wolves of the Normandy circled each other. Shepard felt the rage like alligator teeth dragged over naked skin. Their breath sounded like slowly drawn knives.

Liara whispered, “Shepard, this is not a good idea!”

Jack and Ashley raised their fists. Grunt gave his trademark chuckle.

Shepard said, “I know.”

Karaoke Night

Posted: June 2, 2015 by writingsprint in Science fiction
Tags: , , ,

Post #8 of the 30-day Mass Effect drabble challenge — I never said they’d all be one day after another, now, did I 😉 ?. Today’s prompt: Kolyat Krios, Kal’Reegar, “serenade,” courtesy of the Mass Effect Random Prompt Generator.

Special thanks to Lynn for drawing the prompt, Vorcha Girl for encouraging me to write it, and MizDirected, whose twisted mind brought us the vision for tonight’s post.

challenge accepted

Joker took the stage with the mike in one hand and a beer in the other.

“We saw you already!” Grunt yelled.

“Shut up, Godzilla! The only one who gets to talk around here is me! Everyone else has to sing!”

The crew of the Normandy cheered. Shepard choked on her beer as she laughed. Kaidan jumped as she sprayed him with some of it. Shepard laughed even harder. “I’m sorry!”

“Shepard, do we have to cut you off?” Joker asked.

“Do it and I’ll have you brushing the cargo bay with your toothbrush!” Shepard replied.

The crowd cheered again. Shepard brushed the beer off Kaidan. “Sorry, K.”

“It’s all right. If you didn’t spill it on me I would have spilled it on myself. That Godzilla line had me in stitches.”

Shepard had saved the galaxy three times but she still thought karaoke night was her best idea ever. Once a month, if they had a long run to make through standard FTL, EDI and a skeleton crew handled the ship while the rest of the crew crowded into the mess hall. EDI still had more than enough CPU capacity to handle music changes and even sing herself.

Shepard and Kaidan sat in the back. She beamed over the crowd. One year ago to the day, they had defeated the Reapers. The entire team had come back together. Half of them had insisted that karaoke night go on, and the other half had threatened not to come because of it. That half was drunk now and had sung just as many songs as the rest, including the next two that Shepard saw warming up at the edge of the stage.

Joker said, “All right, next up is…” He peered at the card. “EDI, is this right?”

“Correct, Jeff. In my own surprise, I also chose to verify the next performers.”

Joker chuckled. “All right, I’ve got a special treat for you guys. Our two guests, Kal’Reegar and Kolyat, are doing a special rendition of… well, you’ll see.”

Everyone applauded as Joker shuffled off stage. Kolyat took Joker’s mic and Kal picked up another from near the song books, where James and Kasumi were whispering about which song they were going to do. Kolyat tried not to smile. You couldn’t see Kal’s expression, but his body language looked regal.

Soft piano music moved into violins. Shepard sprayed beer on Kaidan again. Joker nearly fell over laughing. “All right! She’s done!” he said, laughing so hard he couldn’t stand up straight. “I can’t laugh like this! I’ll break something!”

“Do I need to put up a barrier, Shepard?” Kaidan asked.

“Oh my God! Is this what I think it is?” Shepard cried. Everyone shushed her. Shepard covered her hand over her mouth to let Kolyat and Kal sing. Was it… did they…

(sung to the tune of “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” by Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand)


We’re not fighting Reapers
We’re not fighting rachni


We hardly fight anyone anymore
When we go out and explore through some mass relay…


I remember when
We and the geth were fighting
Ships o’er Rannoch were frying
Now the galaxy’s at peeeeace


I haven’t shot anyone in months
That used to bring me sweet relief


When your greatest fear is breaking up a brawl of krogan teens…
We’re not fighting Reapers anymore


It used to be so scary


Used to be…


To talk about the end




Now we’ve got all the time in the world
We just give things a whirl
’Til they sweep us away


Man, I remember all the things you taught me


I learned how to shoot. I learned my masquerades.


I learned how to kill. I learned to fling grenades.


So you’d think I could learn how to sing serenades…


So you’d think I could learn how to sing serenades…
We’re not fighting Reapers anymore…


So you’d think I could learn how to sing serenades…


’Cause we don’t need to shoot things…


We don’t need to kill stuff…


We’re not fighting Reapers anymore…

Kal and Kolyat looked deeply into each others’ eyes, then both looked at the audience and dropped their microphones. The crowd went insane. EDI held up Joker to keep him from falling out of his chair. Kasumi and James dropped to the floor and began waving, We’re not worthy. Shepard and Kaidan were holding lighters in the air using their omni-tools.

Shepard hugged Kaidan around the neck with her free arm. She laughed so hard she had tears in her eyes. “Now that’s what I fought for!”

Post #7 of the 30-day Mass Effect drabble challenge. Today’s prompt: Liara, Benezia, “snuggle pile,” courtesy of the Mass Effect Random Prompt Generator.

“Where did my daughter go? Has anyone seen my daughter?”

Liara giggled from beneath a pile of blankets in the middle of their family room. They played this game every time they planned a sleepover with her friends from school. Liara could see her mother’s feet as she walked, turned, and pretended not to see the lump that watched her, sparkling blue eyes over a smile that almost burst off her face.

“I hope she isn’t lost. Oh, dear. Should I eat all her cake and sweets myself?”

“No!” This was when she always ran out and stopped her mother from doing just that, which little Liara did again. As always, her mother scooped her up, hugged her and they fell into a pile in the middle of the pillows and blankets.

“I’m so relieved!” her mother said.

“Don’t worry. I wouldn’t go far.”

“I know you wouldn’t, dearest. So. Do you want to read a book before your friends arrive? Play a game?”

“I want to dig in the mountains.” Liara yanked at the blankets. She turned them into peaks and valleys surrounding them. “There’s buried treasure everywhere!”

Her mother laughed. “All right, my little archaeologist.”

“What’s an arkie-awlo-gist?”

Her mother’s expression became dreamy. “Someone who finds old, old knowledge, from the people who came before us.”

Liara drew a breath filled with wonder. Her hushed voice whispered, “That’s what I want to do.”

Her mother brushed her fingers over Liara’s face. “Just like your mother. Remember to value today as well, little wing.” She hopped onto a pillow bunched up behind her. “Where’s our first treasure?”

“Over here!” Liara squealed and dove into a pile of blankets and pillows behind her. Her mother laughed and joined in. Liara hoped they had enough time to find a few ancient treasures before her friends arrived.

Officer Verner

Posted: May 30, 2015 by writingsprint in Science fiction
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Post #6 of the 30-day Mass Effect drabble challenge. Today’s prompt: Udina, Conrad Verner, “touching something you shouldn’t”

“Officer Verner, sky car accident in Zakera ward… Conrad, are you there?”

“Sorry, dispatch. I’m on my way.”

Conrad hitched up the armband he wore: black, with white and red piping on the edge, reminiscent of the N7 colors worn by Commander Shepard. The late Commander Shepard. He’d taken the news of the Normandy’s destruction hard. This was his first day back on the job, and he could barely keep his head on straight.

“C-Sec. Let me through. Excuse me, C-Sec.” A crowd gathered around the car port at the edge of the ward near Sirta Foundation. Conrad nudged past an elcor and a pair of hanar, almost getting tangled in their tentacles, and finally reached the scene. A human stood arguing with another C-Sec officer while another kept the crowd back and a third attended to a woman sitting on the ground. A sky car wedged crookedly between two others, one which was crumpled in the front end. “What’s going on?”

“This is an outrage! I’ve shown you my credentials. Now let me go! I have urgent business at the Citadel tower!”

“Sir, please try to calm down,” Conrad said. He remembered how patient Shepard had been when he’d pressed him for an autograph. Then a picture. Such an idiot…

“I won’t calm down. I don’t answer to you. I said I wanted to speak to someone in charge.”

“I’m the watch officer, sir. If you’ll just cooperate—”

“I have a meeting with the turian ambassador!”

“I’ll go with you, then. I can take your statement on the way.”


Shepard would focus. “Sir. Even diplomats are accountable to the law.”

“Diplomat!” The man slapped his fingers disdainfully across Conrad’s badge. “You’re talking to—”

Conrad had his arm behind his back in the blink of an eye. Then the other. Then the cuffs. “A suspect. I’m sorry, sir, but you’re going to miss your meeting. You might want to use your vid call to let him know.”

The other officers goggled at him. Some of the aliens in the crowd applauded. It felt right to Conrad. Shepard would have done the same.

Turning Away

Posted: May 29, 2015 by writingsprint in Science fiction
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Post #5 of the 30-day Mass Effect drabble challenge. Today’s prompt: Anderson, Chakwas, “close enough to hurt,” courtesy of the Mass Effect Random Prompt Generator.

Captain Anderson met personally with every member of the Normandy crew who survived the ship’s destruction over Alchera. All except one.

He found Dr. Chakwas in the emergency room at Huerta Memorial Hospital tending to victims with radiation burns. She wouldn’t come out, and the hospital staff wouldn’t let him in. He had to wait two hours before she met him in an empty room at the hospital. A guard stood outside.

She looked as shaken as the rest of them. The ‘mother bear’ of the Normandy had her arm in a sling and bandages on her face. By the shadows under her eyes, she hadn’t slept. “Captain. What can I do for you?” she asked.

“You should be getting treatment yourself.”

“I’ve suffered no radiation and I can still walk. I performed battlefield surgery during the Blitz with my arm in a sling, so don’t tell me how to take care of my crew.”

“That’s fine, doctor. Now I’m giving you a direct order: sit down. Give me five minutes of your time to save other people’s lives.”

Dr. Chakwas sat. She submitted to his questions like a patient submitting to a hated physical exam. Cooly. Emotionlessly. Like all the others, she had little to say. The Normandy had been attacked by forces unknown. She didn’t know what happened to Commander Shepard.

Anderson stood to leave. “All right, then. Thank you, doctor. Try to get some rest.” He stood to leave.

“When are you mounting a rescue mission?”

She didn’t understand, unfortunately. “Doctor, your recovery was the rescue mission.”

Chakwas jumped to her feet. “What?”

“We don’t know what’s out there. After what happened to the Normandy, we’re not going back there without a cruiser flotilla. We can’t spare those kinds of assets for another week.”

“People could still be alive. Shepard could still be out there!”

“Doctor, you’re too close to this.”

She grabbed the stripes on his shoulders. “And you’re too far away! They were your crew before they were Shepard’s!”

The guard came into the room. Anderson held up his hand. “No! It’s all right. Doctor, this hurts me as much as you. Shepard wouldn’t want us to risk more lives.”

“He would risk his own. You know that he would.”

Anderson sighed. “I do.”

Dr. Chakwas trembled. Anderson thought she might strike him. Instead she simply turned away, and stormed out of the room.

Come Back to Us

Posted: May 27, 2015 by writingsprint in Science fiction
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Post #4 of the 30-day Mass Effect drabble challenge. Today’s prompt: Kal’Reegar, Tali, “wish you all the best,” courtesy of the Mass Effect Random Prompt Generator.

As she finished packing, Tali heard a knock at her door. “Come in,” she said. The door slid open.

Kal’Reegar leaned in, not so much out of politeness as her quarters were too small to comfortably hold two anyway. “Hi, Tali. I was afraid I wouldn’t have a chance to say goodbye.”

“It isn’t goodbye. Not forever, at least. Transfer isn’t the same as exile.”

“I’ll do what I can to keep this space ready for you when you come back.”

Tali snorted. She saw a stack of spare parts crates in the corridor that were moving in after she left. “Try to find me something bigger. With a window.”

“Do you want a balcony and a swimming pool too?” They both laughed. Kal leaned on the doorway. “Vas Normandy. It doesn’t have the same ring as Vas Neema.”

“No. But I have good memories from the last one. They’re not all strangers.”

“Fucking Cerberus. I hope Shepard knows what she’s doing.”

“I’ll have her back.”

Kal paused. “Who’ll have yours?”

Tali’s heart pounded. Kal sounded wistful, and he stood like an awkward teenager. She’d never heard him sound like anything other than the rattle of a well-oiled rifle. She blushed.

Tali was about to say that Garrus and Kaidan were there, too. Instead she lifted her bag of personal effects—a few photos and souvenirs from life on the fleet—and she said, “Home will be with me.”

Kal squeezed her shoulder. “You’re damned right. I’ll be thinking of you. All the best, Tali.” The way he gazed at her said everything that he didn’t say. Then he embraced her.

Tali surprised herself when she pulled him close, too. “Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked.

Kal shook his head. “I thought you’d always be here.”

“Well, this just got a lot harder.”

“Be careful. Come back to us.”