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One of the recurring themes in many a folklore of human cultural landscape, one you found to be quite endearing, and not entirely surprised when you learned it is to some extent, and with some creative interpretation, present also in most alien cultures, was that of the universal power of love. Emotion that would bind sapient individuals and at times dictate course of events, something cascading into greatness or spiralling into tragedy. Frequently both. Power that would transcend reason, logic or even physical constraints, sometimes manifesting as a deity or at least individual, inexplicable miracle.

Of course there was also a sobering record of the cases where reality fell short of the romantic hopes, or where these hopes ran its course until the inevitable end. After all, the reason why you were able to study and uncover legacy of the precursors in the first place was that they were no longer around to perpetuate it by themselves. Even so, a case could be made that the fact this concept endured, emerged and kept people going in their present, was a miracle of its own.

For now, though, you could only spare little of your mind to such musings. Even if it was love of mother for her child that brought you here, and love between lovers or friends that brought and kept here some of your companions, you were rather sure that it was not love that brought here the current object of your greatest concern.

You are doctor Henri Ford, a special consultant for the Citadel Institute of Xenoarchaeology, and currently dealing with what appears to be a living relic from another world that has taken over this little corner of yours - and it wasn't being subtle. Interior of the infested laboratory you and your companions find yourselves in is crawling with the alien growth you've been seeing around the facility, its obvious focal point being remnants of formerly isolated containment chamber currently concealing what might be a humanoid figure, only barely visible amidst the shadows and the veil of xeno-organic matter.

"What... do you mean, she embraced it...?" Marc asks, his expression hardened by tension. "Did you actually ask?" He adds. The adventurer is addressing the other human(?) in the room.

The body of his childhood friend looks at him with expressionless eyes and words flow from its mouth.

"The gift was accepted; the bond reciprocated. Unity is the harmony transcending words." As before, you get the impression of a second voice carrying the words alongside Klara(?)'s. You look around in search of possible source while also struggling to keep track of the exchange.

"But you," Klara(?) continues. "You never accepted the bond. Neither did you." The entranced woman turns towards Rita who was still holding Marc's arm.

"Sorry, girl, I don't swing that way." The adventurer woman mutters bitterly. "And I'm not interested in sharing, either."

You blink. Something tugs at corner of your mind. As if you were overlooking something important.
"You are not of Unity." Klara(?) states neutrally - or is that a tiniest hint of sorrow in her tone?

"I want to talk to Klara. To the real Klara." Marc speaks up, reclaiming flow of the exchange.

"Klara is of Unity now."

"I heard that the first time. But she's still there. I know it. Let her speak on her own. I want to hear her say with her own voice that she chose this."

"You are asking to sequester Klara from Unity. But then she would not be of Unity. She joined the Unity. Her will is with Unity."

"Does that mean you can't, or that you won't allow her to speak?" Marc says, his tone growing colder, his posture shifting into a more controlled one. "If she accepted this... harmony of yours... once, then she should be ready to accept it again. And speak in its defense. I want to hear her words."

The woman is silent for a while, looking Marc in the eye. Then, when you're almost about to question whether she's ignoring you, she lets her gaze wander remainder of your group, perhaps assessing the situation. Eventually she returns to Marc whose expression has transitioned from shocked to one of resolve. You are almost certain you caught him stealing a glance towards the figure visible through the overgrowth of the containment pod.

"Klara is of-"

"Pardon the interruption." You decide to intervene, spurred by the elusive thought that perhaps you're on verge of understanding something important. Perhaps you will succeed in learning more. "But I am wondering how exactly the 'Unity' can exist across multiple isolated bodies."

Marc frowns. The Klara(?) gives you her blank look.

"See, I understand you consider yourself as a single entity, is that right?"

"Yes. We are one."

"Does that mean that your bodies are share equally between your constituent personalities? Does the whole experience, say, sensation of wind on face of one of your bodies?"

"What-" Marc begins but you gesture for him to wait.

"Sensations of one tendril are felt by all of Unity." Klara(?) answers. "The Unity experiences the sensation as one, each aspect supporting its interpretation."

"Everything? Touch, sound, images... even pain?"

"All is shared within Unity." Klara(?) confirms.

"What if one of your bodies is killed? How does that affect your Unity?"

"The Unity is made lesser for loss of its perspective."

"So there *is* distinction left!" Marc exclaims.

"Ford, my sensory readings indicate movement outside of the room." Eve says to your earpiece. "Movements don't indicate imminent attack, but their numbers are increasing."
>Ask more questions (specify topic)
>Negotiate for release of Klara
>Start shooting (specify target)
>Call someone (Alliance, Libella, both, other?)
>other course of action

>I can be called on to cushion your fall,
>Or else your flight I can bring to a stall.
>But when rather than mundane I am only a thought,
>I stand as that which others together brought.
A non-comprehensive summary of previous issues:


Previous issues:
First thread: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/3369286/
Subsequent threads:

I apologize for delay since last thread, and for the glacial pace of posts, friends.
>Ask more questions (specify topic)
What do you wish to accomplish, why bring others to your unity?

>Negotiate for release of Klara

That ridlle is hard as fuck.

I'm going with

From the famous "united we STAND, divided we FALL"
"Klara wants unity more than anything...but she wants it with them"
Point to the two
"Not with you, let her be united with the ones she is bonded to, she accepted your offer out of need not of will. Let her speak to them, and if she truly wants she can go back to unity and maybe bring them with her, you can't convince us but maybe she can."
>negotiate for Klara's release.

Some guesses based on where we are and what is writen
>Negotiate for release of Klara
I know you can release her, but If you do not, then you fear she will not return.
If you fear she will not return, then she may not want this.
If she does not want this then you are not unity, you are slavery.
If you are slavery then you will be destroyed.
Prove that you are Unity, or you will force our hand.

or what >>4428694 said.
>Negotiate for release of Klara

I think it's friendship:
you can call on friends to help you out
friends can help you from fleeing
friendship may seem mundane to some
friendship brings others together

Alternatively, it's a net of some kind, although that may fall short on one or more part of the riddle (unless there's a grammatical error in part 3).

Welcome back, QM.
I think
Is a very good guess, I was thinking
Before I read your answer, I think it's some kind of object now.

And boy, is this an equilateral triangle? Marc wants Klara, Klara wants Rita and Rita wants Marc?
Yup, the only way it would work would be throug unity, but what this plant dude offers is more akin to servitude and slavery than unity like one of the anons above me pointed out
This is also a good guess.
It was clear that time was growing short until either the plant entity or Marc decide to take action to end this standoff. If you wanted to resolve the situation peacefully, if such a thing was even possible, you had to act now. To that end you’d need to find an outcome that to some extent satisfies everyone, and you were still woefully ignorant of the entity’s own motivations. But perhaps there was something there you could work with...

“What do you wish to gain from growing the Unity?” You probe. “And what did you intend to do with those who rejected it?”

“Unity grows to survive. To learn. To thrive. To endure. Those who reject remain apart...”

“Is that why you kept us under lock and mind controlling spores?”

“...you threatened the Unity. Still you ask for bifurcation. Threat needs to be contained.”

“Is that what happened to personnel of the facility? Have they been ‘contained’?” Eve asks.

“No. They all embraced Unity. It offered shelter and safety from the horrors from above.”

You frown. Considering the timeline, that must have been the Reapers. Presumably idea of subsuming oneself into some sort of telepathic network would look relatively appealing in comparison to the screaming death by eye beam... especially with subtle application of mind altering spores.

“You said that Klara accepted your Union implicitly.” You decide to direct the discussion in a more constructive direction. “But that is not how we consent to commitments that dissolve our individuality.”

The Klara(?) looks at you with her blank expression. You don’t give up.

“If what you say of her willingness is true then you risk nothing in allowing her to... bifurcate, from the Unity. She will be able to hear your case, and choose for herself if she wants to be a part of you. I understand... I think... that releasing one of your... nodes... weakens you. But I’m not sure if you understand how important our individuality is for us, even if you seem to possess some knowledge. The connection...” then, as you speak, it strikes you. “Of course! The reason Marc and Rita rejected your connection attempts for so long. They already feel connected to each other.”

The two adventurers exchange glances, and Rita squeezes Marc’s hand.

“I see. You are already in Union.” Klara says, her intonation faltering ever so slightly- you would’ve never picked up on it had she not been consistently monotone until now. Was that entity’s sentiment or her own emotions bleeding through? And regardless, what relation did one’s love life had to this alien communion?
Although it felt like answers you got only served to create more questions, you feel like you’re getting somewhere.

“As you can see, we can enter in an Union of our free will, without even sacrificing our self. That confirms that if Klara truly wishes to return to you, she will be able to and her wish will be respected. Releasing her would also be a valuable show of good will.”

You stop short of pointing out that entity’s presence is no longer a secret and its willingness to cooperate will be a factor in how the authorities will handle it. Though you suspect the topic will be brought up sooner or later.

“...very well.” Comes the surprising reply. “Unity shall eject the one that called herself Klara, to speak on it behalf.”

Then, without further warning, a shrill cry shatters the tense calm of the infested lab and the woman collapses into a convulsing mess, releasing from her mouth a stream of the gray-green matter you’ve by now familiarized yourself with. Marc bolts to her side immediately and supports her, making sure she doesn’t choke on the expelled matter.

“The one known as Klara is no longer of Unity. Interact.”

Speaker is not immediately apparent, but you quickly realize it is the second voice that has been echoing Klara’s, and in isolation it is easy to pinpoint its point if origin as the infested containment chamber.

Meanwhile, in Marc’s embrace Klara seems to be calming down.

“Easy now. Easy. You’re gonna make it.” He comforts her quietly.

“M-Marc...? I thought... I thought you’re... wait. Where are we?”

>Talk with Klara, get her to tell you what she remembers.
>Let Marc handle Klara and address the entity. Perhaps you can find some common ground after all.
>grab Klara and run
>Start shooting
>call someone (specify)
>other course of action
It was indeed a net. It appears my insistence on twisting the sentence to accommodate some rhyme created unnecessary confusion.
>Let Marc handle Klara and address the entity. Perhaps you can find some common ground after all.
It’s best we resolve this matter peacefully and unity doesn’t really seem very malicious it just wants to preserve itself
>>Let Marc handle Klara and address the entity. Perhaps you can find some common ground after all.
>Let Marc handle Klara and address the entity. Perhaps you can find some common ground after all.
>Let Marc handle Klara and address the entity. Perhaps you can find some common ground after all.

I get what you're saying. Initially, net was my first guess, but friendship seemed to fit the verses a bit better probably because of your rhyming scheme.Building riddles is tough stuff: I'm impressed that you've been able to come up with so many.
Looking down at Marc holding his childhood friend under calm watch of his fiancée you decide that Klara is in best possible hands and decide to instead focus on the entity. Although it’s minions - you were still unclear whether they were final stages of transformation of the facility personnel - did attack you, if what the alien use Klara to say was to be believed, they did so for self defense. Perhaps there was a chance to find common ground with the entity.

“What is your name?” You ask as you make a few steps towards the containment chamber.

There is a moment of silence, only disturbed by subdued whispers between Marc and Klara. You begin to wonder if the creature is ignoring you when it finally answers.

“We have no name to call our own. We had no need of one. Dwellers of this place referred to us as Specimen 37B. Our alias for purpose of obfuscation was the Cult of Unity.”

“How about ‘Pasty’, you know, for the pasta monster?” Feria offers. You give her a look framed by a raised eyebrow. “What? I like the joke. Our culture in contrast takes itself way too seriously.”

“Or perhaps you would consider ‘Vrille’? It’s the local term for a tendril.” Eve offers.

“Wait, wait, if you’re naming her, consider Sur’zika, the legendary swarm creature that was thought to inspire the Geth development.” Lea interjects Ober the comm.

“...” is the reply you get from the entity as you consider how eager your companions are to give it a name. As you consider your options...

>pick one of the suggestions (which?)
>come up with another name yourself (enter suggestion)
>disregard naming for now.
With that issue resolved, you return to the challenge before you.

“Judging by your choice to stay hidden and conceal your true nature behind the Unity sect, I conclude that you have realized that had your existence become known, even after the Reapers fell, you could be in danger.”

“Yes. Memories of the Unity associate publicity with danger to be avoided.”

“That’s unsurprising, as the people working here were essentially criminals.” You nod. “However, there may be a way to reconcile your presence and existence with the authorities. Because as you have probably surmised, complete secrecy is not in long term within your capacity.”

And you sincerely hope neither is, or would ever be, global domination, though you keep that for yourself. Much as you don’t appreciate idea of Alliance getting heavy handed with the city above and around, you’re confident in their ability to clean this up should it come to that.

“What do you suggest, isolated one?”

Well, that was the question now. Several options seemed to be available, some more risky or less likely to succeed than others...

>Offer to smuggle and transplant the entity elsewhere
>Offer to broker a deal with the Alliance. You are confident you’ve good enough rapport with sufficiently important people to keep the entity from vivisection
>Offer to broker a deal with a Spectre. If someone can get away with having a dubious alien creature under her custody, it’s her.
>other suggestion / other course of action

Optional conditions of the deal
>release all or some of the Cerberus scientists
>request further information about the entity
>request further information from the joined hosts
>other (specify)

Optionally, add convincing arguments for the entity to consent.

Please, roll some 1d100s. A deal entity will consider fair enough will succeed regardless of the roll.
Rolled 82 (1d100)

lol, loved the names, i must admit I'm partial to Pasty but I would rather
"so, any of those sound like something you would want to be called? my name is Henry by the way."

>Offer to broker a deal with a Spectre. If someone can get away with having a dubious alien creature under her custody, it’s her.

>request further information from the joined hosts
and if they can be saved
>release all or some of the Cerberus scientists

tell her that as much as we don't know about her she must not know about us, and humans value their sense of self very much, so what she may have done could count as abduction, slavery or even murder if she consumed their identity to the point of nonexistence, we understand it did it to grow, but can it not survive without absorbing those people?
Rolled 15 (1d100)


>Offer to broker a deal with a Spectre. If someone can get away with having a dubious alien creature under her custody, it’s her.

>request further information from the joined hosts
Rolled 98 (1d100)

>Offer the entity the choices of Pasty, Vrille, Sur'zika, or Unity. Introduce ourselves as well.

>Offer to broker a deal with a Spectre. If someone can get away with having a dubious alien creature under her custody, it’s her.
>request further information from the joined hosts
“I am assuming you know from your hosts’ memories what a Spectre is.” You say.

There is a pause. Perhaps Fleur, as the creature ultimately asked you to refer to it, was polling her subjects for information.

“Yes. Individuals vested with great power.”

“Left hand of the Council. License to kill and generally do whatever it takes to preserve their supremacy.” Feria comments.

“Unity regards them with respect, envy and fear.”

“Yes. Well, that’s to be expected, given nature of business concluded here.” You reiterate. “However, I am on good terms with one of them-“

“You fucking WHAT?” Feria yells as the other adventurers give you surprised glances. “Fuck me fuckity fuck, I should have known you’re in deep with the deep state. And now you give those fuckers a mind control alien to experiment on... I mean past whatever the corporate fuckers already did? Speaking of...”

The Asari looks up towards what is likely head researcher’s office and her biotics flare to life around her as she gathers dark energy, with you mustering your limited reserves to try and counteract whatever she intends, vain cry of “please, wait...” escaping your lips, Eve raising her weapon as her omnitool spins up its freezing molasses.

“Feria, wait!”

Fortunately, Rita’s cry gives the blue maiden pause.

“Don’t you see what this is about?” The Asari questions her comrade. “Imagine if Salarians got their twitchy fingers on something like this. Or anyone in position of authority really. We’d be all smelling flowers before the first batch of nu-Krogans reaches adolescence!”

“Unity welcomes everyone.” Fleur says.

“Not helping.” You growl under you breath. You’d be pinching bridge of your nose had you not still been wearing your helmet.

“Not everything is about your damn politics, Feria.” Rita says. “This creature is here, on Earth. Who else than Council should take responsibility of watching over ... uh... them? Alliance? Would you prefer these to have exclusive access to mind control?”

You grimace inwardly are that.

“Nobody should have this kind of power!”

“So are you gonna kill them and call it a day?”

The Asari looks between faces of everyone assembled, throwing some glances at the infested containment chamber.

“It’s just... young.” A voice you don’t immediately recognise joins the debate, on account of being hoarse and not entirely monotone anymore. “Thank... thank you for setting me free. I... felt oddly at peace, back then. But... I am glad to be myself. To see...” she sobs “...you.”

At this Feria finally relents and relaxes. “Fine. But we’re gonna regret this.”
“We take chances every time we choose to put our trust in someone’s hands. But is the mutual bond not worth it?” Eve asks rhetorically.

“There is no risk of betrayal in the Unity.” Fleur points out helpfully.

“That’s not the same thing. Knowledge that we trust each other enough, that we’re willing to take the chance is another thing that brings us closer.”

“Until it doesn’t.” Feria mutters bitterly.

“...and you trust this... friend... to preserve us?”

You nod. “I do. If I had to pick a person to have both capacity and integrity to ensure safety of you from others and vice versa, it would be her.”

Feria snorts but otherwise remains quiet.

“However,” you carry on slowly, knowing you’re getting to the difficult part, “you will be required to release all other humans you are holding. Both because holding them could be considered slavery or maybe even murder... and because their account of what was happening here needs to be collected.”

“...you are asking to sequester *all* the joined from Unity.”

“Yes.” You keep your tone level and firm despite worrying how the entity will take such request. “This will be necessary. I understand doing so is unpleasant and debilitating to you, but no authorities will tolerate a being enthralling others in such manner. Many would prefer death to choosing such a fate for themselves, and others ail prefer to kill to leaving them so.”

You do hope you are not being too optimistic in your assessment of the authorities.

“You are being too optimistic in your assessment of the authorities.” Fleur says after another long pause. Unsurprisingly the Cerberus scientists shared their lack of idealism with the entity. “But it is likely you are correct in the necessity of... isolation...” that sounded almost mournfully “to secure survival.”

Fleur pauses for another moment.

“Very well. We shall submit to the friend of you, Henri Ford. We shall commence the separation upon their request.”

Several sighs of relief are heard.

“Ye gods. We’re all so fucked.” Feria says exasperatedly. “I hope you’ll excuse me if I’ll show myself out before the spooks... more spooks begin to file in.” She growls bitterly and turns to leave.

>Call Libella right away (optional: specify what to tell her)
>Leave as well, you can call her from the surface or approach her personally.
>Stick around and dig in the records some more
>Intercept Feria, talk to her about something
>Talk to someone else about something
>Intercept Feria, talk to her about something
Feria, if you keep running away you'll never move past theories.
>Intercept Feria, talk to her about something

Ask Eve to start on the records, and to maybe talk to Klara to understand what was her thing here while we go after Feria

This is good

Thank her for her help here and offer to introduce her to the spook, then she can get her own conclusions, but we will understand if she doesn't want to see her, but it would be better to stay and see what the truth really is
Oh, and make sire to teach whoever comes to deal with this the steps to get rid of the uniry

>Stick around and dig in the records some more
“Eve, take a look at the records here if you please, and maybe see to Klara, too.” You tell the gynoid even as you move to intercept the Asari who just disappeared through the hole in Fleur’s weave of tendrils you previously cut to enter.

“Alright, Ford.” Eve answers and you nearly trip with a start as the lights in corridor and the lab ignite. Then you realise she probably restored power to gain easier access to facility’s systems and resume your pursuit.

You catch up to the young anarchist before she reaches the checkpoint separating the lab section from administrative one. A group of cultists is watching you and the approaching Asari, their gathering interspersed with several dormant creepers where there previously haven’t been any.

“Feria, Wait.”

“Shouldn’t it be ‘miss Miran’ for you government types?” She asks, but does stop and turn around.

“Whichever you prefer. And I’m a freelancer.”

“In bed with Alliance and the Council. Do they know of each other, or are they just colluding?”

“Why don’t you wait along and ask the spectre yourself?”

Feria frowns at you, arms crossed. “I make it a point to avoid dealing with representatives of the establishment.”

“I noticed. And you’ve made it abundantly clear how you feel about them.” You nod. “But have you considered an opportunity to confront the object of your misgivings on fairly favourable terms?”

“As opposed to making myself scarce so I don’t have to show on their report? Or were you going to rat me out regardless?”

“I can omit your involvement, and likely also get my friend to ease off looking you up, if that is what you wish.” You answer, but carry on before she can open her mouth to assent. “But Feria, if you keep running away, how will you ever move past theories?”

The Asari measures you with a glare for a few moments before relaxing.

“You know what? You have a point. Alright, I’ll wait for ‘debriefing´. But I’m making no promises of playing nice if they push my buttons.”

“Consider me warned.” You say with a grin as you activate your omnitool and bring up your list of contacts.
It took less than half an hour for Libella and the Asari forces she coopted into the operation to arrive. It amounted to maybe two score of the blue skinned commandos from the Rouen outpost, with some of them securing known topside access to the warehouse while remainder delved inside, most through main entry by the cultist dwellings - Fleur's minions offered no resistance, although the movement of armed aliens through the extralegal settlement has certainly not gone unnoticed. You winced internally when you imagined the indignance echoed on next gathering of the anarchist community. On the other hand, the quick, narrowly targeted action seemed to not provoke immediate response. You were not sure if the same would hold true if Alliance decided to swarm the place with marines.

The task force was commanded by the spectre herself, with a seasoned huntress from base commander's retinue serving as her second as well as Asari military liaison. The huntress introduced herself to you as Masina, and the way she looked at Feria grimacing with disgust and contempt made you wonder if you made the right call in bringing the anarchist maiden about.

"Doctor Ford. I must admit when you told me you chanced across a conspirational black site, I was positive you were jesting." Luckily, Libella was there to exude enough air of authority while maintaining a polite, diplomatic demeanor, to keep the situation under control.

"Yes, well, I kind of wish I was. But... fortunately, the situation here lent itself to a..." You hesitate as you search for appropriate terms "...relatively peaceful resolution."

"I can see that." The spectre nods, "I am very appreciative of your cooperation... Fleur." she addresses the grotesque spectacle occupying inside of the containment chamber. The figure you spotted hints of before was now laid out before you, female body still clad in dirty lab overalls, resting entangled in alien tendrils, her head obscured from sight as it was lodged in a bulbous, slightly pulsating growth that drooped off the wall of greenish alien matter that covered inside of the containment chamber with varying thickness.

You were accompanying the Spectre and her second closer to the heart of infestation, with Feria and Lea, who joined the Asari as they entered the facility, tagging along. The three adventurers were off in the far corner of the lab, catching up and discussing their past and present circumstances accompanied by Eve's physical presence.

"We have no desire to be exterminated. Henri Ford offered a viable path. Will you corroborate his assertion, Spectre Libella?"
"I will." Libella nods. A very slight frown of frustration passes over Masina's expression before she's able to wrestle it back into neutral one. It appears Libella had to flex her supralegal privileges to restrain the military and catch yourself wondering to what extent it's because she's humouring your desire for peaceful resolution, as opposed to seeing the opportunity to facilitate what amounts to continuation of the installation's original purpose.

"What do you intend to do with her?" Feria asks.

"That will be a matter of discussion." Libella says. "I'd like to explore possibility of relocation to an area less exposed to civilian populace. Amount of autonomy we can allow depends on measures we need to take to ensure safety."

"You sure it's not just so you can hide continued research from public scrutiny?"

"That is also a factor." Libella says brazenly. "We don't want to alarm the public with alien presence with given capabilities."

"What made you - not you, specifically. I know you got a chit from the Council. But what made the Council a legitimate authority on deciding what the public should or should not be allowed to know?"

"The Council derives its legitimacy from authority its constituent governments have over their nations, and those in turn are beholden to their own citizens in the manner they deem appropriate. In the case of Asari republics, that's e-democracy under guidance of our most respected Matriarchs."

"Yeah, it's a dictatorship of a majority with inordinate amount of weight being lent to jaded fossils on account of their having eaten and shat more over their lifetime." Feria opines. "And even that arrangement has the power flow upwards several layers, concentrating every time into smaller amount of hands until it gets liberally alotted to whatever political appointee emerges from a clusterfuck of shady log rolling."

"That is a rather jaded view of things." Libella counters patiently. "Although politics require compromise to reconcile differences, the process is under public scrutiny. And while no mortal is without flaw or weakness, we are not absolved of individual morality, nor oversight by our peers."

"Corruption is inherent and inextricable in any system that enshrines concentration of power-"

"Alright, is this really the time for a politics debate?" Masina finally loses her patience while echoing your own thoughts. Something about the situation struck you as mildly bizarre. Has the recent Reaper incursion whittled people's conception of what was normal so effectively that you could participate in this sort of conversation in front of a partially ingested woman? Or perhaps was there something you were unaware of. "Why is she even here?" The Asari huntress adds, snapping your attention back to the present.

"I suppose not." Libella chuckles. "And she participated in investigating this place." She adds, then turns back to Feria. "Would you mind continuing this discussion elsewhere?"

"Sure. You were losing anyway."
"Regardless," the Spectre turns back to the alien entity. "We are now prepared to take your joined into our custody. Those of them who will choose so will be allowed to return after being interviewed and having their state assessed."

"Wait, you're going to be letting them, uh, re-link, right away? Just like that?" Lea asks. She was not present during the encounter and you could see in her cautious step and guarded stance the infested lab made her more than a little bit unnerved.

"If they request it over being handed over to the authorities."

"You're counting on the... Fleur... picking their brains for you." Feria mutters.

"I am hoping for a most favourable outcome for everyone." Libella says with barest hint of exasperation. "I cannot just let them walk free from the clandestine activity that was going on here."

Feria keeps silent, not having a rebuttal prepared in defense of corporate blacksiters. Lea however doesn't let up.

"But you're a Spectre. Can't you, I don't know, offer them a special pardon in return for cooperation?" The Quarian asks.

Libella ponders this for a moment. "There are some options to that effect... but exercising them will not be received well by the Alliance whose authority I'd be trampling over."

"Ford, it may be relevant to the conversation that I've found more files encrypted with Cerberus protocols while scouring the system. I can assert with near certainty that this installation was a Cerberus operation, although most of the personnel would be unaware of that." Eve says into your earpiece. "It will take time to decrypt the files, most of which are likely related to research itself, but I believe that between that and circumstantial information both Alliance and miss Tefar would be able to cross reference data from the systems here to infer at least some form connection to other cell or cells."

>Mention Cerberus involvement as a reason and/or justification to further invoke Spectre authority, seeing as she's already investigating the organization's presence.
>Suggest getting Alliance involved in securing and investigating the site. Anarchist squat topside notwithstanding, Earth is pretty much by definition their ballpark.
>Ask Feria about the politics topside. Maybe she has some idea how any of this will impact the anarchist community.
>Excuse yourself and go talk with the Adventurers. Your work here is about to be concluded.
>Ask/Say/Do something else (specify)

and after the immediate questions are settled

>Return to Madame Blanc with the liberated adventurers (after they've undergone medical checks in Asari outpost) to conclude your contract.
>[MEANWHILE IN THE JUNGLE] (play through Kris's adventure in exploring another clandestine corporate facility)
>Call Kris over the comm, check if he's done with his hunting endeavour. (auto-resolve Kris's hunt. He's at no real risk given formiddable support of both vigilante adventurers and the renegade Krogan)
>>Mention Cerberus involvement as a reason and/or justification to further invoke Spectre authority, seeing as she's already investigating the organization's presence.

>Use the same files to assert the level of understanding the liberated staff had to see if they should be prossecuted or pardoned when they are released, so those who are trully in bed with Cerberus can be handed over to the alliance as a gesture of good will

>Call Kris over the comm, check if he's done with his hunting endeavour. (auto-resolve Kris's hunt. He's at no real risk given formiddable support of both vigilante adventurers and the renegade Krogan)

>Excuse yourself and go talk with the Adventurers. Your work here is about to be concluded.

>[MEANWHILE IN THE JUNGLE] (play through Kris's adventure in exploring another clandestine corporate facility)
>Mention Cerberus involvement as a reason and/or justification to further invoke Spectre authority, seeing as she's already investigating the organization's presence.

>[MEANWHILE IN THE JUNGLE] (play through Kris's adventure in exploring another clandestine corporate facility)
Supporting >>4445780
"If it helps you decide," You speak up in response to confirmation of what you've been suspecting, "this installation has been if not entirely operated, then at least controlled by Cerberus."

Feria's eyes widen incredulously, Masina's frown deepens and Libella locks gaze with you.

"Cerberus? Didn't Shepard destroy them once and for all?" Feria asks. "Damn. Where are all the logos?"

"Believe it or not, Cerberus did not place their heraldry on everything it did." Libella says softly, still looking at you. "Are you certain of that, Ford?"

"As sure as can be." You nod. "I believe you may well find links to your other investigation, although probably not direct ones seeing as this cell must have been taken over during or shortly before Reaper arrival."

"Oh, I'm sure it will. It already raises some questions for me to ask..." Libella muses.

"Wait. Aren't Cerberus a human black ops? Does the Alliance know you're helping a Spectre against them?" Feria frowns.

"They do." You admit. "And that brings me to my other point. Perhaps it would be beneficial to involve them in the investigation to mitigate any misgivings left by exercising your authority? With Fleur's help it should be easy to determine who and to what extent was consciously working for Cerberus. This could perhaps open a way for the less involved scientists to be pardoned in exchange for cooperation - and conversely, cooperation from Fleur would go a long way to convince the brass to tolerate her."

"..." You're now sure how Fleur manages this pronounced silence, but you get the impression the creature is mulling over your ideas. The same can be said for the other aliens party to the debate.

"Thank you, Ford." Libella says after a brief pause. "I will take your vote under advisement."

"That is all I can ask." You offer a small smile. Then, prompted by a soft sound of laughter, you turn around and your gaze falls on the three adventurers. Three souls thought lost, recovered, returned to their close ones. Your smile widens. "In the meantime," You shoot Lea a lopsided grin. "I think I have a case to close."

With that, and a parting nod to Fleur's current 'speaker', you and Lea step away from the Asari, only vaguely aware of Feria offering her opinion on collusion of spooks as the discussion takes another turn behind you. It was time to bring your charges home.

Well, after medical specialists in local outpost confirm it's safe for them, anyway. As you wonder what other procedures await you, even with Spectre to 'streamline' things among your friends, by ways of other agenda awaiting resolution, you find your thoughts wander to your Krogan friend.

How does his search for origin of the escaped bioweapon go?
This concludes episode 12.

Henri Ford and his stalwart crew will return!
Thanks for running, can't wait for the next chapter.

Poor Feria, there are too many layers of spooks her for her to handle.
Thanks for running! Looking forward to the next thread.

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