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Kai Leng took three steps out of the room... and froze.
The Illusive Man frowned. "Kai, what's wrong?"
He tried to stand up, to get a closer look, but found himself rooted to his seat. "What the hell..."
At which point every computer screen on every Cerberus ANYTHING displayed an image of what was known in the early twenty-first century as a 'trollface.'
The Illusive Man blinked. "What the fuck is going on?!"
An image of a second Illusive Man appeared, looking and acting exactly like him, but with the same coloring as the Alamandan avatar.
"YOU!!" he snarled. "How did you?"
"You idiots are Indoctrinated, stupid," the Alamandan avatar said. "We have control over all Reaper tech, and that includes idiots who thought they could exploit the technology for their own purposes."
The Illusive Man felt his blood run cold. It was true that he had all his people, including himself, infused with Reaper technology in an attempt to control the power they possessed, and eventually to control the Reapers themselves. If the Alamandans
could take control of it, then his ambition may have screwed over humanity's best hope of improving their position in the galaxy.
Kai, who hadn't been through the process yet and was loyal for other reasons, charged the avatar, only to fly through the image harmlessly. The avatar chuckled, ignoring him otherwise.
The Illusive Man felt his control being released. "I assume you blocked any attempts I made to communicate with the rest of Cerberus?"
The avatar nodded. "Of course. We don't need some bigoted pests trying to exploit this to their advantage. A war-mongering Quarian tried to do something similar, intent on annihilating the Geth in the confusion. We played with their ship's environmental
systems just so that they got the hint not to be dicks about this."
The Illusive Man sighed and lit another cigarette. "And I assume that you plan to make good on your Reaper-reactivation threat if I so much as flinch in a way you disapprove of."
"And we'd start with killing every single loved one every single Cerberus agent has left alive, JACK HARPER," the avatar said, emphasizing the Illusive Man's real name.
Kai Leng went wide-eyed, suddenly frightened. The Illusive Man's eyes narrowed angrily. "What do you want?"
"Let us have our fun. We'll then withdraw the Reapers and send them to an isolated corner of the universe, away from any life, organic or synthetic. Anyone currently introdrinated with Reaper-tech will be purged of it. You included," the avatar said.
"Contrary to popular belief, not all powerful alien races are out to get humanity aaaaand you don't care you just want power."
The Illusive Man chuckled when the avatar was able to read him just from his expression. "I freely admit that advancing humanity's position is a big goal of mine. And I'd be lying if I said that I didn't want my people to have the strongest role in the
galaxy. But underneath it all, I want to be sure that my people are safe from any outsiders."
The avatar shook his head. "You disgust me," it said.
"I don't care," the Illusive Man responded.
"Is it at all possible that you could get along with other races?" the avatar asked.
The Illusive Man puffed smoke. "So long as they do not take any aggresive action against humanity or stop us in our ascension, then I have no problem with any alien race," he said.
The avatar scowled. "You're like the worst and best of humanity all in one package," it muttered.
"I take that as the most sublime compliment," the Illusive Man said.
The avatar sneered. "Don't interfere. We have no interest in humanity beyond making porn, and we want this first one to be a romantic one, since the idea appeals to us. Do not try to alter any of Shepard's crewmates either now or for the rest of their
lives, we'll find out, undo it, and send the Reapers after you. You're outmatched this time, Illusive Man. Take any aggressive action against ANYONE during this time, and you'll pay for it. Understand?"
"Of course," the Illusive Man said genially. "Although if it's all right with you, I'd like to reserve a copy of the video when you finish production."
"Of course. No charge," it said.
The Illusive Man quirked an eyebrow, curious.
The avatar chuckled. "We're not a part of the Citadel, we have no interest in going off-planet, we don't HAVE to go off-planet, and have everything we need here. Why would we need credits?" the avatar said. "Play nice and maybe you and your bitch boy
bodyguard will get to be in a future video."
The image flickered out, the Alamandans withdrawing from Cerberus's computers, leaving an introspective Illusive Man and a furious Kai Leng.
"Bastards... Think they're better than us..." Kai Leng snarled.
The Illusive Man smirked. "I think I actually like them," he said.
"EXCUSE ME?!" Kai Leng almost roared.
The Illusive Man turned to him, smirking. "Think about it," he said. "They keep to their own planet, don't take money or resources from anyone else, and produce something that everyone likes: porn. Or at least they're planning to. Short version: THEY
STAY ON THEIR PLANET. And they don't want to leave it. That means they don't pose a risk to Earth."
Kai Leng gagged. "They have command of the Reapers. They can take control of anyone with Reaper tech in them! And on top of that, they suggested that you might be under the control of the Reapers! Are you going to let that insult stand?!"
The Illusive Man nodded. "Yes, actually..." He smirked at Kai Leng's resultant snarl of frustration, and explained himself. "Now that I think about it, my thoughts now are clearer than they have been in months. My brain feels... quieter."
Kai Leng shook his head in frustration. "All right. So that helps us maybe. They still forbade us from going after Shepard's crew for the rest of their lives. I'm assuming this will also extend to any heirs. Which means we're FUCKED, especially if
Shepard and that cunt Lawson start working against us actively. Udina and Lawson's father can't help us either."
The Illusive Man shrugged. "Shepard's a hero. His crewmates, including the aliens, are an inspiration to humanity. I was reluctant to go after them anyway, this just gives me an excuse to be a bit more... creative," he said.
Kai Leng blinked.
The Illusive Man turned to him, smirking. "We can't take any aggressive action against them, and I'm presuming just to be safe that they have ways of detecting, preventing, and undoing any form of mind control. However, there's nothing wrong with a simple
intelligence-gathering mission, is there? I'm sure they wouldn't object to us learning about them. So long as no one hurts anyone, things should be fine."
Kai Leng grinned. "Had me worried there for a minute," he said.
"Shepard is going to need a few more people for his mission," the Illusive Man said. "I've already got four people in mind to infiltrate. They're low rank, mainly because their attitudes toward other races isn't COMPLETELY in line with Cerberus's goals,
but they're completely dedicated to our cause. Kai, arrange for them to be brought on board the Normandy and have them contact me. I'll brief them." He gave Kai Leng a datapad with four names, the assassin bowing and going to fetch them. The Illusive Man
turned to watch the distant star, idly chewing on a cigarette.
"Well, Shepard, it looks like we can't touch you on this," he said. "But don't worry. I still have ways to keep you on your toes." Especially once I get this Reaper tech out of me, he mentally added.
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