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Zeppo Effect: Fight for the Lost

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Zeppo Effect". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: The Galaxy's Greatest Hero is back from the dead with a small army of the deadliest operatives in the galaxy to take on all comers. They say it's a suicide mission, that it’s certain death. THEY keep forgetting that Shepard has a Zeppo in her corner.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Games > Sci-Fi > Mass Effect Trilogy(Recent Donor)BHRamsayFR1864310,83929384129,80816 Jan 1226 Sep 13No

Interlude:‭ Doctor Patient Confidentiality (4)

AN- Thanks to Drakependragon and Reikson

Interlude:‭ Doctor Patient Confidentiality (4)

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‭“‬Miss Lawson,‭”‬ Chakwas said dryly,‭ “…‬may I repeat my oft-made suggestion that you wear something in the field that‭’‬s a little less flattering to your admittedly-impressive figure and a little more protective of it‭?”

Miranda quirked an‭ ‬eyebrow.‭ ‬ “Is that your professional opinion,‭ ‬Doctor‭?”‬ she asked archly.

Chakwas snorted,‭ ‬jabbing a thumb into Lawson‭’‬s still sensitive side in lieu of actually talking.

Miranda gasped from the pain,‭ ‬instinctively grabbing at the wound.

‭“‬Why,‭ ‬yes,‭ ‬Miss Lawson,‭ ‬that would‭ ‬indeed be my professional opinion,‭”‬ the doctor smirked.‭

“All right,‭”‬ the genetically-engineered woman backed down,‭ ‬gritting her teeth from a fresh surge of pain.‭ “‬Well,‭ ‬I happen to have something that I was saving for the big mission,‭ ‬but I suppose that I can wear it on regular assignments as well.‭”

“Please do,‭”‬ Chakwas nodded,‭ ‬running her omnitool across her patient‭’‬s wound.‭ “‬As much as I‭’‬d enjoy the company,‭ ‬you‭’‬re much too valuable to be sitting on the sidelines.‭”

“Helen,‭ ‬I sign your pay‭ ‬stubs.‭”‬ Miranda reminded the old woman pointedly.‭

“In medical matters,‭ ‬my authority supersedes Shepard herself,‭”‬ the good doctor shrugged.

‭“‬Fine,‭”‬ Miranda grumbled.‭ “‬So,‭ ‬will I get a clean bill of health‭? ‬Shepard‭’‬s made herself clear‭; ‬anyone who doesn‭’‬t get a sign-off from you will be staying behind when we hit Hagalaz and the Shadow Broker.‭”

“Your injury‭’‬s healing well,‭”‬ Chakwas shrugged,‭ ‬closing her omnitool as the dermal regenerator finished its work.‭ “‬Normally,‭ ‬I‭’‬d say that you should sit out the next mission or two,‭ ‬but your enhanced rate of tissue regeneration means that you‭’‬d probably be combat-capable,‭ ‬if not completely combat-ready,‭ ‬by the time we reach Hagalaz.‭ ‬Just take it easy and find someone large to stand behind.‭ ‬I‭’‬d suggest Grunt,‭ ‬that Krogan boy.‭ “‬

“I was a little worried.‭ ‬About the wound,‭ ‬I mean.‭”

“It was a fairly-decent patch job,‭”‬ Chakwas shrugged,‭ ‬still‭ ‬examining the scan results on a nearby‭ ‬terminal.‭ “‬Who do I have to thank for the work that I‭ ‬don‭’‬t have to do to patch you up‭?”

“Xander‭ ‬Harris,‭ ‬apparently,‭”‬ Miranda winced as Chakwas kept probing her wound.‭ “‬He saved my life,‭ ‬even applying the medigel by hand when it wouldn‭’‬t circulate through my system.‭”

The‭ ‬aging doctor nodded grimly.‭ ‬ “It‭’‬s‭…‬ not unheard of,‭”‬ she said noncommittally,‭ ‬turning back to her monitors‭ ‬and‭ ‬examining something on them closely.

‭“‬Is there a problem,‭ ‬Doctor‭?”

“You said‭ ‬that Xander worked on you‭?‬” the older woman asked,‭ ‬not even looking at her.‭ ‬When Miranda nodded,‭ ‬the older woman‭’‬s eyebrows climbed.‭ “‬Did anything‭…‬ happen,‭ ‬while he was groundside‭?‬ Anything odd or unusual‭?‬”

“Nothing worth mentioning,‭”‬ the genetically-engineered woman shrugged.‭ “‬I mean,‭ ‬I had some kind of OBE,‭ ‬and a hallucination that Xander‭’‬s eyes were glowing gold.‭”

“Evidence of your need to rest and maybe take it easy,‭ ‬perhaps,‭”‬ Chakwas sighed,‭ ‬tapping away at something on her terminal.‭ ‬ “But I know‭ ‬all too well how people like you tend to respond to being told to take‭ ‬it‭ ‬easy.‭”‬

“So‭…‬ no worries,‭ ‬then‭?”‬ Miranda asked.‭ ‬ There was‭ ‬something‭ ‬about‭ ‬the doctor‭’‬s demeanor that had her on edge.‭

“No,‭ ‬no,‭ ‬you‭’‬re quite fine.‭ ‬ The picture of health,‭ ‬all things considered,‭”‬ the aging doctor said.

Miranda‭ ‬frowned somewhat.‭ ‬ Something was bothering Chakwas,‭ ‬all right.‭ ‬ She seemed incredibly taken aback by something that‭ ‬she was seeing‭ ‬on the monitor.‭

“Are you sure‭ ‬that‭ ‬everything‭’‬s all‭ ‬right,‭ ‬Helen‭?”

“I‭’‬ll get you a list of crew injuries and medical recommendations,‭ ‬shouldn‭’‬t‭ ‬take me more than an hour before they‭’‬re on your desk.‭”‬

“Thank you,‭ ‬Doctor,‭”‬ the genetically-engineered woman sighed,‭ ‬leaning back on her‭ ‬bed.‭ ‬ “I‭’‬m glad to see at least one‭ ‬person on Shepard‭’‬s team‭ ‬who‭ ‬can fill out paperwork.‭”‬

She noted the way Chakwas seemed‭ ‬disturbed‭ ‬by whatever was on her desk terminal.

Heading to her office and sitting down in her chair,‭ ‬she actually let herself slump‭ ‬in relaxation.

She couldn‭’‬t rid herself of the feeling‭ ‬that the good doctor was holding‭ ‬something‭ ‬back,‭ ‬as though she was hiding something.‭ ‬ Most of Shepard‭’‬s crew liked their secrets,‭ ‬a‭ ‬personal security measure that she understood and even approved of‭ ‬as a sentiment.

But Chakwas had been something of an exception,‭ ‬a flawless professional in the same‭ ‬fashion of many‭ ‬other people who ended up in Shepard‭’‬s‭ ‬orbit.‭ ‬

That is,‭ ‬until now.

Bringing up one of her monitor screens,‭ ‬she called out,‭ “‬EDI,‭ ‬I have a priority request.‭”

“Yes,‭ ‬Miss Lawson‭?”‬

“Access‭ ‬the ship‭’‬s‭ ‬medical database.‭ ‬ Pull up‭ ‬the deleted files of‭ ‬ship‭ ‬CMO Helen Chakwas.‭”

“Working‭…‬ the only‭ ‬deleted item is an image from a medical‭ ‬scan.‭ ‬ Would you like it displayed‭?”

“Who‭’‬s the subject of the scan,‭ ‬EDI‭?”‬

“You,‭ ‬Miss Lawson.‭ ‬The‭ ‬image‭ ‬timestamp‭ ‬says that it was taken only a few minutes ago.‭”‬

“This scan is what my internals look like,‭ ‬right at this moment‭?”‬

“Yes,‭ ‬Miss Lawson.‭”‬ A picture flared to life on her computer,‭ ‬a slideshow of data that had been deleted and even redacted.‭ ‬ “Doctor Chakwas‭ ‬apparently‭ ‬replaced this scan with‭ ‬the results from‭ ‬an older‭ ‬examination,‭ ‬and‭ ‬went to great lengths to hide‭ ‬this deed.‭”

“Why would she delete a scanned image of me‭?”

“Unknown,‭ ‬Miss Lawson.‭”‬

Miranda looked at the digital readout of the actual file in question.‭ ‬ The images looked familiar‭ ‬to her,‭ ‬almost strangely so.‭ ‬ “EDI,‭ ‬am I looking at my uterus‭?”‬

“Yes,‭ ‬Miss Lawson.‭”

Miranda was as familiar with her internal organs as any man or woman could be.‭ ‬ However,‭ ‬she had‭ ‬gone to great lengths in order to‭ ‬familiarize herself with‭ ‬her uterine walls in particular.‭

“Run a comparative analysis between this picture and what‭’‬s on file.‭”

“Working‭…‬” EDI intoned.‭ ‬ “…complete.‭ ‬Displaying results,‭ ‬Miss Lawson.‭”

Miranda had only needed to look‭ ‬at the two pictures side-by-side‭ ‬for a few seconds or so before she found herself‭ ‬breathless.‭ ‬ The filed scan‭ ‬image showed her uterus as it‭’‬d been even only a few hours ago,‭ ‬including the scar tissue and the many‭ ‬small polyps that had lined the walls of her uterus for most of her life.‭

Such extensive damage meant that she couldn‭’‬t get pregnant even if she wanted to,‭ ‬and Miranda had long suspected and blamed her father‭’‬s genetic tailoring‭ ‬for this particular shortcoming.

But the results of the deleted scan revealed something shocking‭;‬ the‭ ‬polyps and scar tissue‭ ‬that she had been so familiar with,‭ ‬were now‭ ‬all gone.

Bringing up her omnitool,‭ ‬Miranda‭ ‬quickly‭ ‬synced it to her terminal and ran an extrapolative program on the two pictures now being presented to her side-by-side.‭ ‬A few minutes later,‭ ‬as the results highlighted the differences between the two images,‭ ‬she sat back in her chair in shock over the implications of the results.

Her scarring had‭ ‬somehow‭ ‬been reversed.‭ ‬If she‭ ‬was so inclined,‭ ‬she could become pregnant with a child of her own.

The only possible explanation for this miracle was‭ ‬that Xander Harris‭’‬ intervention‭ ‬on Haestrom was somehow responsible.

She found herself touching her belly in wonder.

Such healing seemed impossible,‭ ‬nothing short of miraculous.

Then she remembered something,‭ ‬and her mind began‭ ‬churning.‭

Why would Chakwas want to conceal‭ ‬something‭ ‬like this‭ ‬from her‭?

Of all the things‭ ‬that‭ ‬she could‭ ‬possibly lie about,‭ ‬why this‭?

“EDI,‭ ‬is there any connection that Helen Chakwas might have with Xander Harris‭? ‬Something not on the official record‭?”

“There is only one notable connection,‭”‬ EDI‭’‬s voice seemed apologetic,‭ ‬if possible.‭ ‬ “Helen Chakwas‭’‬ medical education was‭ ‬funded by a sizable‭ ‬grant from both the Summers Trust and the Rosenberg Foundation.‭ ‬Xander Harris is listed as a founding member of both‭ ‬groups.‭”

“Xander paid for Helen Chakwas‭’‬ tertiary education‭?‬” the genetically-engineered woman echoed aloud,‭ ‬incredulous.‭ ‬“But that‭’‬s impossible‭; ‬he‭’‬s only in his‭ ‬late twenties at best,‭ ‬and Helen‭’‬s‭ ‬at least thirty years older than him.‭”

“I do not have enough information to speculate.‭ ‬ But both the Rosenberg Foundation and the Summers Trust are public organizations,‭ ‬well‭ ‬known for their charity work‭ ‬ever‭ ‬since they were founded in‭ ‬2100.‭”

She frowned.‭ ‬“EDI,‭ ‬are there anyone else on the‭ ‬Normandy‭ ‬with connections to those‭ ‬two‭ ‬organizations‭?”‬

“Working‭…‬ there is‭ ‬only one match.‭ ‬Mister Moreau‭’‬s medical treatments,‭ ‬as well as some of his early education outside the Alliance military,‭ ‬were paid for by grants from‭ ‬both‭ ‬the Trust and the Foundation.‭”

Miranda‭ ‬continued staring at the two pictures side-by-side on her monitor,‭ ‬unwilling to believe what she was‭ ‬seeing.‭ ‬ “EDI,‭ ‬I‭’‬d like a copy of any medical reports‭ ‬that‭ ‬Doctor Chakwas has made regarding this incident.‭”

“She has made no mention of this incident at all,‭ ‬Miss Lawson.‭”

Her frown deepened into a scowl.‭ ‬There was definitely a cover-up at work here,‭ ‬and for the ship‭’‬s CMO to be in on it could mean disaster for the mission.‭ ‬“EDI,‭ ‬have a copy of these scans‭ ‬sent‭ ‬to my‭ ‬Illium‭ ‬dropbox‭ ‬via burst transmission.‭”

“Would you like a copy sent to Cronos Station‭?”‬

“No‭!”‬ she nearly shouted,‭ ‬panicked.‭ ‬If Xander Harris really had pulled off this medical miracle,‭ ‬then she needed him on hand if his‭…‬ treatment‭…‬ turned out to be temporary.‭ ‬ “Under no circumstances is any of this‭ ‬information‭ ‬to be sent to Cerberus Command.‭ ‬ At least,‭ ‬not until I know what‭’‬s going on.‭ ‬ Any‭ ‬response to my queries is to be routed directly to me,‭ ‬my eyes only.‭”‬

Joan Shepard was stronger and faster than any normal human had any right to be,‭ ‬and‭ ‬she‭’‬d said that her enhanced physical abilities had come as a result of coming into contact with Xander Harris.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬Shepard had been vague on‭ ‬HOW Xander had‭ ‬managed to‭ ‬achieve that feat,‭ ‬amongst other things.

For instance,‭ ‬there had been that slip-up with Oleg Vodyev.‭ ‬A quick‭ ‬extranet‭ ‬search of‭ ‬‘Oleg‭ ‬Vodyev‭ ‬the Bomber‭’‬ revealed an old‭ ‬documentary-vid detailing humanity‭’‬s history with the mass-effect,‭ ‬dating back from about ten years ago.‭ ‬There was even a clip in which one of his coworkers‭ ‬waxed nostalgic about Oleg making a critical breakthrough‭ ‬while drunk off of Smirnoff Jägerbombs,‭ ‬his favorite drink.

Xander‭ ‬had mentioned something to that extent,‭ ‬now that she thought about it.

Rumor was that Aria T‭’‬Loak had‭ ‬temporarily‭ ‬boasted biotic abilities well beyond what could be naturally accounted for,‭ ‬even in the most powerful of Asari Matriarchs.‭

Now,‭ ‬one of the few defects that Miranda Lawson ever had,‭ ‬the one that she‭’‬d assumed would keep her from ever knowing the joy of having a child naturally and being the parent that her father had never been to her‭…‬

Now,‭ ‬that defect was gone.‭ ‬ As if by magic.‭

…and the only connection between all these people was Xander Harris.

Now,‭ ‬she realized that Helen Chakwas seemed aware of the cause of this miracle,‭ ‬and was actively attempting to cover up its existence.

But why‭?

The answer was obvious‭;‬ she was protecting Xander Harris.‭ ‬But for what reason‭?

Joan Shepard.

Buffy Summers.

Willow Rosenberg.

Xander Harris.

All four of them were ongoing people of interest to the Illusive Man.

They were a puzzle‭ ‬to her,‭ ‬one that her‭ ‬boss held many‭ ‬of the pieces needed to decipher‭;‬ pieces‭ ‬that‭ ‬he insisted on hiding,‭ ‬even from her‭; ‬his most trusted aid.

There had to be a reason‭ ‬for his secrecy.

For the first time since she‭’‬d come aboard,‭ ‬Miranda Lawson cursed the‭ ‬Normandy‭’‬s extensive surveillance apparatus.

How could she search for the truth about the Illusive Man‭’‬s connection to all‭ ‬this without him discovering what she was after‭?‬

She knew,‭ ‬better than anyone else alive,‭ ‬that the Illusive Man liked his secrets and was willing to kill to protect them.‭

If he couldn‭’‬t reach you,‭ ‬then he‭’‬d find someone‭ ‬that‭ ‬he could reach.

Which meant that she had to check on Oriana immediately.
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