Just a normal day on board the Normandy. No Reapers coming forth through the veil to once more perform their ancient and vile duty, no Collectors abducting humans to recreate their gods, no terrorists seeking wrongful freedom or credits, no Geth wantonly attacking any organic in sight, and no mercenary groups seeking revenge on their inestimable losses to the crew of the Normandy. The crew worked on their reports and kept the ship running as they gently coasted throughout the galaxy.
“HAS ANYONE SEEN THE COMMANDER?” Joker bellowed through the loudspeakers, destroying and atomizing that peaceful atmosphere I was just describing.
“What seems to be the problem, Mr. Moreau?” EDI popped up, with an almost sigh.
“Shepard WAS supposed to come in and do his usual inspections as per protocol, but he’s three hours late!” Joker groaned as he held the archaic clipboard with official papers. “If I don’t get these signed, all those shiny upgrades can go bye-bye!”
“I wasn’t informed of such a thing.” EDI questioned. “What kind of inspection?”
“I dunno!” Joker threw up his arms. “It’s just…a general inspection of the cockpit. I guess! Still, the Council has been on our backs recently over our Cerberus’ connections, so I don’t want to rock the boat. Shepard has it clear that we should build bridges instead of burning them.”
“Perhaps he meant that ‘when we get to the bridge, we will burn it.”
“That’s not a smart thing to do…” Joker groaned as he managed to get out of the chair. “Look. Can you scan the Normandy to find Shepard? Hopefully he hasn’t accidently airlocked himself out. Or taken a shuttle away again. Or he made the inspection so he can play some stupid joke on me…”
“Commander Shepard isn’t on the Normandy.” EDI chimed in.
“I repeat, Commander Shepard…”
“I understood that! Where did he go?”
“No shuttle craft has left, nor has any other ship came by.”
“Dammit.” Joker groaned as he sat down and considered his next action. “Okay, so he’s not onboard, but he hasn’t left…so he’s fooling the sensors…”
“Even if Shepard was a Infiltrator, I would be able to detect his unique lifesigns anywhere on the ship…and on record, practically anywhere in the universe.”
“Really!” Joker turned with a raised eyebrow. “Then where is he? Do you locate bad-ass particles or something?”
“I have no record of this specific particle, but I can find Shepard based around the amount of implants he has, a mixture of his cologne, the usual smells of battle; blood, dirt, oil, sweat…”
“Okay, good to know, now where is he?”
“Commander isn’t on the Normandy.”
“Well, great!” Joker finally gave up and once more jumped up from his chair. “I get it now. He’s not on the ship. But I’m guessing someone besides the computer knows where is, and I intend to find out!” He grunted as he moved his fragile body forwards the medical bay. “EDI, keep the ship from running into anything, or randomly exploding.” Before EDI could voice out a complaint or a order, Joker had managed to drag his body down the hall.
And then EDI transferred to the nearest console and then protested, “Mr. Moreau I advise that you return to your seat before you break every bone in your bone again.”
“I need the exercise!” Joker shouted. “Makes me alive and all that shit!”
“Language please!” Mordin interrupted from the other room.
“Doc, have you seen Shepard?” Joker passed by EDI and went straight towards the Salarian doctor, currently poking a poodle with a prickly pin to proceed into the procedure to procure a plea to the protests of the pleasant protestors. “And don’t lie to me, I know when you lie, you do that weird lip with your eyes.”
“No such mannerism.” Mordin replied as his tongue zipped out and nearly went up to his eyeballs. “Perhaps not the case here. No, haven’t seen the Commander. No passing words, no comments…Commander hasn’t been around in a while. Rather lonely. Shepard must feel he has done everything with me…”
“Didn’t need to hear a sob story, just the location of the Commander.” Joker rolled his eyes before he continued his fruitless journey into the armory. EDI once more tried to get Joker to return to his seat, but Joker said a obvious gag and brushed his hand over the console to shut it off. In the armory, as expected, Jacob was there alongside Grunt. The two were polishing guns and exchanging war stories, much like old veterans who spin their tales a bit longer and more heroic than they actually were.
“So I located the rear-end of the Thresher Maw and promptly stuck my rifle up it.” Grunt continued. When he walked in, Joker expected to hear this sort of thing so he didn’t act all surprised.
“How long until the smell died off?” Jacob asked as he dipped his cloth into the generic brand of polish. With all the money spent on upgrades, ship material, model ships, fish, and dirty magazines, there wasn’t enough to afford decent named brand polish. Now the guns would have to polished every week as opposed to every other week.
“Oh, a couple of days.” Grunt huffed. “I used my allowance to buy a few of those silly air fresheners that Joker raves on about, and it covered the smell from the Commander.”
“No, prune. Pine makes my nose itch like I stuck a bug up it.”
“Hey guys.” Joker decided to interrupt. “Have you seen the Commander. And remember! I know when you guys lie. Jacob’s nose flares up…and Grunt just can’t lie. He’s too obvious.”
“Why do I need to lie?” Grunt shrugged. “If I’m going to say ‘I’ll rip out your spine so I can floss’, I’m going to take my hand into your squishy back, reach around for the long bony rod, yank it out, and then stick the spine into my mouth and gently move it back and forth to remove the chunks of food…”
“Thank you.” Joker and Jacob said in unison. Jacob then filled in, “No, haven’t seen the Commander. He came in earlier to test out the new and improved sniper rifles; you know, the ones that don’t shoot upward if you aren’t a soldier or a Infiltrator? He said hi, fired a few shots, and then used the elevator.”
“So he’s on a different level.” Joker groaned. “Well, there’s only four levels he goes to, and I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be in his own quarters. Contact me if comes back here, or something.” Joker waved bye with only Grunt waving back. EDI once more tried to get Joker, but a quick death glare reminded EDI that Joker had business to attend to.
Down one level and into the Mess Hall where a crowd had gathered around Zaeed to discuss his exploits on the third moon of Mathais…where half his team died, someone betrayed him, and he had to fight and survive and escape and blah blah. Joker wanted to ask him, but such a task would take a hour of listening to a tale before Zaeed would just admit he had no idea. Samara, Kasumi, and Thane would be ideal choices, given the three’s abilities…but…
Today was going to be a day of comedy, with poor Mr. Moreau at the blunt of every joke. Turn the corner, and there’s Kasumi with a monster mask on trying to scare people for a few laughs and get lots of hits on the internet. Might as well! Go and see Thane, and he’ll create a fake flashback just to waste time or teach Joker a important lesson on why you should make right turns at comets or something. Samara? Who knows? Say one thing wrong to her and she’ll airlock you.
Why, Joker decided to go and see Miranda to see if the spy might know the location of the wonderful Commander Shepard. She should know. There should be a tracking device inside of him that she should have 24/7 knowledge of here he is. But the moment Joker walked in, he would be pushed out for one reason or another. Be it her changing clothes, or a embarrassing hobby…
“Hello Joker.” Miranda warmly answered as she reached around her neck to attach the clasp to her diamond necklace. She wore a rather nice party dress and that didn’t show off her well-rounded assets. Including the literal one! She didn’t seem to mind Joker intruding into her office without knocking. “Are you looking for someone?”
“The commander. Can I use your computer…?”
“Sorry to say, but Jack had long since removed the tracking device from him.” Miranda shook her head. “You’re on your own. I recommend talking to Kasumi…she probably knows.”
“Thanks, you’ve been the most helpful person on this entire ship.”
“I would be more helpful if you listen.” EDI chimed in with a annoyed tone.
Joker responded by turning her off once more. “If you don’t mind me asking, what sort of party are going to? Hopefully it’s not some secret party I wasn’t invited to…”
“No, Joker.” Miranda sighed as she patted herself down to sooth out any creases. “Just a private date…a private one Joker.” She stressed that out as she got closer to Joker. “Pri-vate da-te.”
“You structured it wrong.”
“Do you understand me?” Miranda glared…right before switching to a evil smile. “Remember, I got plenty of…items about you and things you like. Things that are best kept under wraps and remain just as small nameless files on a computer…” She went over and MENANCELY tapped her computer. “Tell me. Is watching my date going to be worth damnation?”
“I really don’t care.” Joker shrugged.
“What?” Miranda tilted her head in confusion. “Joker, I’m going on a date with Sa…” She stopped herself short. “You aren’t interested in using the many cameras to spy on me?”
“No.” Joker blankly stated. “I care not for you and your dating. To be frank, I don’t find you all that attractive.” He then cleared his throat MENANCELY. “Also, now that I know you keep evidence of my wrong-doings around, I shall elevate this into a cold war. I have material on you. So let’s keep these things as they belong: unnamed files buried in folders. Are we clear?”
Miranda clapped at Joker’s fine attempt of being evil. ”All right fine. I’m off to my date now, make sure to take it easy and go overboard.”
“I’m damn fine and I DON’T NEED MOM-BOT TELLING ME OFF!” He pointed to a EDI console that had a small burst light just a second ago. “I’ll continue to look for the Commander! Feel free to go ahead and date Saren or whoever.” Joker waved Miranda off and promptly left her. Not wanting to take any chances despite Joker’s insistences, she decided to wait for him to go to a different floor first. She would wait for the usual sound of the elevator followed by a long string of curses.
Joker once more skipped over Zaeed’s seminar and preceded to the medical bay. A quick look into the widow showed that not only was Chakwas in, but Garrus and Tali. Good, one of those three should know…no, of course they wouldn’t know, but might as well go ahead and start the routine. Joker figured he would at least turn purple after his visit.
“No saying hi, no smart-ass remarks, I just need to know if any of you have seen the Commander.” Joker said as he entered.
“Why hullo to you too.” Chakwas sighed, getting her only line in for the entire story before turning around and filling out a report for medi-gel. She still had to fill them out despite them no longer stocking a unlimited amount of the stuff. It had been a few years since the first Normandy, but she still had to fill out these reports for the amount of medi-gel Shepard burned through the first adventure.
“Haven’t seen the Commander.” Garrus yawned. “Tali’s suit ripped so I carried her up from the engine room to make sure she isn’t suffering from some sort of disease…”
“Actually, the cut only tore into a blade of armor and I have literally no chance of being infected…” Tali rose a finger but Garrus shushed her with his own finger.
“Yeah yeah…” Joker grunted. “You just want to bone her, so you decide to play the white knight…”
“Oh, I get it.” Garrus interrupted. “Because you can’t find the Commander, you’re in a bad mood and figure you can get away with being a ass to everyone.”
“Even though I’m right?”
“Oh don’t worry, Joker.” Garrus tapped his foot on the ground, waiting for Joker to limp out of the medical bay. “We will have revenge, one way or another. I recommend you check your seat to make sure we didn’t accidently leave anything behind.” He stood there waiting for Joker to give up and leave.
Joker did leave, with a middle finger raised behind his back as he closed the door behind him. Once he grunted his way towards the elevator, Tali turned to Garrus and asked, “He was telling the truth, wasn’t he?”
“Hmm…” Garrus leaned to one side with a raised hand cupping his head in a mock thinker pose. “Maybe a little column A, a little of column B..”
Miranda breathed a sigh of relief as she could the usual sounds of the elevator descending followed by the sound of a sailor swearing. As she gathered what else she needed for her date, she could also hear some swearing in Quarian. Opting not to investigate until later, she walked down the hall towards with a peaceful mantra going through her head.
Joker had reached the end of the rope. Surely Jack must know. She has to! They’re dating! But as he descended into the lower reaches of the ship, he considered what he would say to the all-powerful biotic that wouldn’t hit one of the many pressure points and cause him to be displayed all over the walls like some hack artist just threw a can of paint and called it art.
He arrived to see Gabby and Kenneth kissing right in front of the elevator doors. Joker considered making a quip about the two’s sexual tension, but just moved on and looked for Jack in the hold. But she wasn’t anywhere in sight or in mind. Surely he would be able to find a psychopath by following the trail of carnage and emo poetry etched into the walls right?
Nothing! She left just as mysteriously as Shepard did! Great, another person to go and find…
Joker stopped. He just heard a ghost going ‘oooh’ in the walls. Given how things worked nowadays, that wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. Why, it could the ghost of a crewmate that died on the original Normandy! It could the spirit of a villain Shepard killed seeking revenge! Or perhaps a Reaper agent…
…but then a smooth voice declared ‘more’ and it became apparent to Joker. He marched over to a console and summoned EDI. “Hey EDI?” Joker asked with a more pleasant tone, a faux one mind you. “Let me ask you. Is Commander Shepard on board the Normandy?”
“No.” EDI replied.
“Ah.” Joker sighed. “So, let me ask you this. Is Jack AKA Subject Zero on board the Normandy?”
“Good, good.” Joker then took a sharp intake of breath. “So. Let me ask you this. Just one more question, if you will. Is Commander Shepard and Jack IN the Normandy?”
“Yes.” EDI replied.
“Ah.” Joker nodded his head. “I’m guessing that Shepard specifically asked you to wait for specific wording?”
“Commander Shepard requested that I do not divulge his location unless otherwise necessary. He additionally requested that if someone were to inquire about his position to only reveal it if they asked it in the specific format.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Joker sighed as he limped over to the hull. He scanned the area around him and picked a nearby a wrench. He gently rapped it against the side of the wall, shouting: “HEY COMMANDER! IT’S INSPECTION TIME! GET YOUR PANTS ON AND GET YOUR BUTT INTO GEAR!” With the noises of sex dying down, Joker dropped the wrench and finally went to return to the cockpit. After the rumble of the elevator started to shake the lower reaches of the ship, Jack pushed out the fake panel and she and Shepard rolled out of their little hidey-hole. Shepard groaned as Jack laughed.
“For the monkey boy, he sure picks up fast, huh?” Jack asked as she kissed Shepard on the cheek to revive him. “I thought it at least take a few hours before he would figure it out.”
“Me too.” Shepard groaned as he got back up onto his feet and arched his back to fix the kinks. “Hopefully I can keep Joker from blabbing that information out loud to everyone. Not the best place, certainly not soundproof…” He let loose a deep breath as he slowly returned his back to the normal position. “…and not exactly a lot of room to maneuver around in…”
“Hey, it’s sex not combat.” Jack slapped Shepard on the back. “But I thought you made up that inspection to keep Joker in line for a little bit?”
“I forgot about it when you called me.” Shepard shrugged. “Honestly didn’t think that Joker would take it so seriously. Guess I have no choice but to inspect the cockpit and make sure all the gauges are spinning or something…” He then groaned as he walked forward towards his destiny…or something like that. If the elevator had a new name, it would be destiny, given how many elevators Shepard has ridden in the time between Eden Prime and now.
Miranda once more picked up Joker’s cursing as she poured a wineglass. “Looks like he found the commander.” She remarked to her partner.
“If he came to me, I would have told him the exact area to look in.” Samara stated as she took the wineglass into hand. “Thank you.”
“It got him out of his chair at least.” Miranda said before adding on a laugh. “I swear he couldn’t. He spends so much time on it, I swear his sweat stains glue him down!” She went into a roar of laughter, with Samara only adding in a few short chuckles. “But I told him off about our little thing…so unless a emergency goes down, we have all the time in the world.”
“I have taken care of Miss Goto.” Samara added. “Thane has agreed to pass on a few of his techniques to her in exchange for a few extra credits I’ve earned on board.”
“I’ll be more than happy to help pay…”
“No need Ms. Lawson.” Samara raised her hand. “Thane offered a discount…for good friends.” She cleared her throat. “Tell me, you had a deal of your own to offer me?”
“…tell me, Samara. What do you say to…a partnership?”
“Of what kind? Keep in mind…”
“Oh, I know. But maybe you’ll consider…”
The Normandy coasted peacefully throughout the cosmos, bustling with life and with more on the way.