Fanart (!) for Ghost in the Machine, and Announcement

My friend Gladius created this phenomenal illustration for the Virmire chapters of Ghost in the Machine. The joy of seeing an offscreen moment such as this, that would otherwise exist only as a vague idea in my imagination, would be hard to overstate. Perhaps more importantly, this is hugely motivating and invigorating as a token of interest. I am honored and deeply grateful.

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The Cure

Chapter 38 of Ghost in the Machine

One hour before the attack on Virmire.

The salarians on the beach looked tense. If they were to start shooting, Shepard would be the first to go. She turned and aimed a semi-alarmed glance at Nihlus, who trailed her by a few steps, but he shook his head: keep your weapons down and you’ll be fine.

They were wading through the shallows, stirring up the fine sand and leaving a murky trail in the turquoise water. The morning sun was burning bright and hot on her uncovered head. The ground team was out in force, now that the Normandy had landed, and advanced in a loose wedge formation behind her.

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The Vault

Chapter 37 of Ghost in the Machine

Four hours before the attack on Virmire.

“How do you feel?”

Like a madman, about to run into an unsuspecting crowd with twenty kilos of explosives strapped to his chest.

He didn’t say that. He didn’t say anything for a long time, looking for the right words. It seemed inevitable that words would fail. Nobody has ever done anything like this; she’d said so herself. What good would his answer do if there was no point of comparison, no context to give it meaning?

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Dead Hearts III

Chapter 36 of Ghost in the Machine

It was dark inside the cabin. Dark and stuffy. When had he last been in here? Garrus couldn’t remember. The emergency lights from the corridor were just about strong enough to paint the vague outlines of the spartan furnishing, a fuzzy stain on the metal floor the only reflection. Nothing to see anyway. A crew cabin like any other. Well. It was still new. You could tell from the sharp edges of the bed frames and the lingering smell of paint. It wasn’t enough to drown out the reek of alcohol, though. It alerted him to the other’s presence even before he sensed movement on the cot to the right.

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Dead Hearts II

Chapter 35 of Ghost in the Machine

Everyone seemed reluctant to leave the Comm Room. Everyone except Wrex, who was already out the door. The humans dragged their feet, looked from Shepard to Nihlus and back, and exchanged uncertain glances as if they weren’t sure if the meeting was over. They weren’t the only ones suffering from the impression that it wasn’t. Tali stood next to the door, just outside the range of the proximity sensors, bending her fingers in uncomfortable ways and unmistakably staring at Garrus. But Garrus wasn’t looking back; he was saying something to Shepard, something quiet and secret-like, whispering right into her soft, meaty ear in a way that made wisps of her hair dance in his breath. Shepard wasn’t listening. She was focused on Liara with a strange expression of red-alert wariness coupled with motherly concern. But Liara wasn’t aware of it; she was looking at Nihlus expectantly, pleadingly, just about ready to fall in his arms and open the deep, dark well of her soul to him again. For real, this time, her eyes were saying. Swim, and perhaps drown together in the warm, weightless void.

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Dead Hearts I

Chapter 34 of Ghost in the Machine

Tali cursed aloud, then remembered where she was and quickly glanced left and right. Phew. Nobody within earshot. There were more people in the hangar than usual, but they all seemed preoccupied. Ashley and Crewman Harriswere sparring just outside Wrex’s cubicle. Wrex was in; he was cleaning his weapons and humming some horribly dissonant tune. He looked up from time to time, prompted by grunts and profanities issuing from the combatants. On the other side, near the drawbridge, Donnelly and Kaidan were leaning over the microfacturing unit, mostly just frowning and shrugging, and only occasionally erupting in short bursts of conversation.

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